Story and photo by Dustin Senger
Soldiers from 615th Engineer Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion, cased their unit’s colors April 21, ahead of a one-year deployment to the Middle East.
Capt. Paul Stelzer, 615th Eng. commander, and 1st Sgt. Robert Dyer cased the company guidon at the 52nd Eng. Bn. motor pool facility, which symbolizes the unit’s impending relocation to an undisclosed area in Southwest Asia. The Soldiers are responding to a 90-day notice to provide a security force.
“We were called for security but we’re bringing the engineer skill set, too,” said Stelzer, who called the mission unique since engineers typically build a site prior to establishing a security presence.
The commander commended his Soldiers after the casing ceremony and before releasing them for a two-week block leave. He praised his noncommissioned officers for their leadership following the unit’s activation in April 2010, as part of the 52nd Eng. Bn.
“To the Soldiers, most importantly, I am amazed how far we’ve come,” said Stelzer. “Just a year ago we stood up and now we’re ready to deploy. We’ve made it our business – our culture, I like to think – to be the best at everything we do.”
Pfc. Aaron Arnett, a heavy construction equipment operator, said the unit has emphasized infantry-related tactics. They recently participated in “best squad” and company competitions, convoy live-fire movements and a site-security field exercise.
“We’ve had a lot of training the past year and we feel we’re ready to go,” said Arnett, commenting on the upcoming security forces mission, his first overseas deployment since joining the Army in October 2009.
“I joined the Army knowing I’d be a basic rifleman ready for anything,” he said.