The unit motto for the 130th Engineer Brigade is “Sappers In,” an apropos rallying cry now that 180 of its soldiers are heading to Iraq next week for another yearlong deployment.
Based in Hanau, Germany, the brigade is sending in about 80 soldiers from its 320th Engineer Company (Topographic) and the balance from its headquarters company. A farewell ceremony is planned for Friday, and unit officials expect soldiers to depart sometime next week.
“Most everyone wants to get this started,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Micheal Buxbaum, the brigade’s ranking noncommissioned officer.
“The sooner we get on the ground,” Buxbaum continued, “the sooner we can get our mission started and the sooner we get our year done.”
Elements of the brigade have been in Iraq almost continuously since the 2003 invasion. The 94th Engineer Battalion out of Vilseck, for example, has been in Iraq since January, and the 502nd Engineer Company returned from its second yearlong gig earlier this month.
The brigade’s headquarters staff will oversee the efforts of other engineer units — active as well as reserve — in the theater. Buxbaum estimates that anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 servicemembers will come under its command, performing duties from road and bridge work to power, water and sewer repairs.
For the soldiers and families left behind, “the challenge,” said Maj. Paul Baker, the rear detachment commander, will be to manage “the anxiety level of separating soldiers and their families.”
Baker and Buxbaum said in some ways it’ll be easier this time around because soldiers and family members are more familiar with the challenges that accompany a lengthy deployment.