Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Fort Carson Mountaineer

Engineers complete missions

Spc. Joel Stuemke, 497th Engineer Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion, holds his son, Luke Marshall Stuemke, for the first time, after returning from a 10-month deployment to Kuwait and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Story and photo by Cpl. William Smith

4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

Yells and cheers filled the air at the Special Events Center, as Family and friends watched the arrival of more than 260 Soldiers, Feb. 8, after returning from a deployment to Kuwait and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Soldiers with the 497th and 544th engineer companies, 52nd Engineer Battalion, deployed in May and spent the past 10 months completing construction projects in Kuwait, Afghanistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

“On behalf of all of us from Fort Carson and Colorado Springs, welcome home and thanks for a job well done,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson. “We’re very proud of all of your accomplishments, as you should be. To all of our Families out here, thank you for your love and support. Without that, these Soldiers could not do their job. Have a great and safe reunion with your loved ones.”

The 497th Eng. “Devastators,” completed more than 40 construction projects in Kuwait and Afghanistan, resulting in the construction of new fuel facility berms, waste water retention ponds and connex storage yards at Camp Buehring, Camp John Pratt and Camp Marmal.

The “Spartans” of the 544th Eng. completed large-scale engineering projects in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Although their main construction efforts remained in Kuwait, the unit sent platoon-sized detachments forward to other countries to provide infrastructure and Soldier quality-of-life improvements at base facilities. Overall, the 544th Eng. Soldiers performed nearly 107,000 man-hours of construction during their deployment.

Friends and Family could not wait to reunite with their Soldiers once the ceremony concluded.

“I am very excited,” said Sandy Milton, wife of Sgt. Ronnie Milton, 497th Eng. “I have barely been able to sleep from the anticipation of him coming home. I have butterflies.”

The Soldiers were also glad to be back on American soil with those closest to them.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be home,” said Capt. Tyler Scheidt, commander, 544th Eng. “A lot has changed in the time I was gone.”

After singing the Army Song, the Soldiers were released and rushed to their loved ones with smiles, tears of joy and open arms.

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