NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana National Guard’s 844th Engineer Company and 1021st Engineer Company returned home to family and friends during welcome-home events throughout the state,June 18.
The 844th, based in Pineville, La., with two detachment locations in Ruston, La., and Monroe, La., deployed more than 160 Soldiers to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The engineers conducted horizontal construction operations to help maintain and upgrade base camps and provide engineer support for all base camps throughout Kuwait.
The 1021st, based in Covington, La., with two detachment locations in Independence, La., and Gonzales, La., deployed more than 160 Soldiers to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The engineers conducted vertical construction operations, including building, concrete, and plumbing and electrical systems.
Lt. Col. Larry Benton, deputy brigade commander for the 225th Engineer Brigade, said he has come home from deployments to events like this three times in his career.
“Your heart just starts racing,” he said. “You want to see smiling faces … The recognition we receive is overwhelming support and we appreciate every bit of it.”
The LANG has deployed more than 22,000 men and women in support of global operations since Sept. 11.
“It’s worth it,” said Sgt. First Class Dickie Valios, of the sacrifice of being away from home. “It’s nice to be known as part of that group.”
The 844th and 1021st conducted mobilization training together at Fort Bliss, Texas, before deploying overseas together.
These units have participated in the state response and recovery operations of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and Isaac, as well as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and flood operations in 2011.
Valois explained that you begin the deployment not knowing some of the members of the unit, but eventually things change.
“You develop a bond, like brotherhood, and eventually become best friends.”