54th Engineers, ready for deployment, are bid farewell
BAMBERG, Germany — The 54th Engineer Battalion got an official farewell from the Warner Barracks community and added the Presidential Unit Citation streamer to its guidon during a deployment ceremony Friday.
The unit was recognized for its support of the 3rd Infantry Division in liberating Iraq during Operation Iraq Freedom I from March 19 to May 1, 2003, according to the citation.
By the end of October, about 440 soldiers from the battalion will deploy as Task Force Dagger for a second rotation in Iraq. The unit will be based near Ramadi with three support companies including a Marine unit, said Lt. Col. Shawn McGinley, battalion commander.
“I think we’re ready,” McGinley said. “This will be a hard mission, but we’ve trained over the last year, and the rear detachment is ready to support the families.”
That training has included a couple of rotations at Grafenwöhr and exercises at training areas in Kitzingen and Bamberg, said Maj. Hank Thomsen, operations officer for the battalion.
In remarks during the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Daniel A. Hahn, V Corps deputy commander, said the soldiers in formation who had deployed to Iraq for OIF I helped change the lives of Iraqis.
“Because of your sacrifices, the people of Iraq now have hope for their future,” he said.
He also assured the troops that their families would not be uprooted because of transformation of units and bases in Europe.
“We will not put your families through any unnecessary turmoil through rebasing or transformation while you are deployed,” he said.
The soldiers in the battalion said the extensive training has made them confident about the deployment, but a year away from home will be hardship for some.
“The only hard thing is that I just got married in July, and we have had a hard time talking about the deployment,” said. Spc. Michael Johnson. “My wife [Deana] signed up for college classes and she wants to volunteer to keep busy. She’s going to sign [daughter Eve, 9] up for some extra classes after school. The big thing is staying occupied to keep your mind off the deployment.”