Kentucky engineers deploy to Middle East

By Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Wood, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs

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The 441st Survey & Design Team was honored at a departure ceremony on Oct. 31 at the Kentucky National Guard Armory in Springfield, Ky. They will deploy to the Middle East and fall under the 682nd Engineer Battalion. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. First Class Rebecca Wood)

SPRINGFIELD, Ky. — More than 80 family members, friends, Kentucky Guardsmen and the City of Springfield said farewell to Soldiers of the 441st Engineer Survey & Design Team Oct. 31, at the Kentucky National Guard Armory in Springfield.

The Soldiers will deploy to the Middle East for an estimated 10 months. Their mission will be to travel throughout the Persian Gulf region to plan and test for engineer work projects, address facility site location environmental concerns, and survey for construction projects and boundary identification throughout various areas of operations.

A representative from the 201st Engineer Battalion, Capt. Stephen Strack said even though the unit is small, the job the Soldiers will perform will make a huge difference.

“The team’s specialty starts off any construction job over there,” said Strack. “The building plans they form with the local populace will help win hearts and minds, while the projects they help construct on the bases will provide force protection, moral, welfare and recreation for the other deployed troops.”

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Deputy-commanding General of the 38th Infantry Division Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell was the guest speaker at the 441st Survey & Design Team Departure Ceremony on Oct. 31 at the Springfield Armory. The deployment is the first mobilization for the engineer unit. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. First Class Rebecca Wood)

Since 2011, the 441st has served as the Kentucky Army National Guard’s very own survey & design team. This new unit has always supported Kentucky Guard engineers in vertical and horizontal construction projects across the commonwealth, but has never deployed, until now.

The 441st commander, 1st Lt. Cody Lasseigne said though only one of the 14 Soldiers has been deployed before, this team is ready.

“This is the best bunch of guys I have ever encountered,” said Lasseigne. “They work really well together and I foresee them enjoying the experiences they face in real world missions and training opportunities.”

One 441st Soldier, Sgt. Austin Huffman, is a homeland security major at Eastern Kentucky University. He has been in the 441st for three years and said there is a lot more to their job then survey and design, such as material testing for future construction sites and quality control/quality assurance for newly built sites. He also said he set a professional goal to accomplish while in the Middle East.

“I want to get better at sketching on this deployment,” said Huffman. “It’s challenging for me because you have to draw construction sites to scale using pencil and paper instead of a designing program on the computer. We all will test our skills and return home better engineers.”

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Sgt. Austin Huffman hugs his mother and father at the 441st Survey & Design Team Departure Ceremony on Oct. 31 at the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Ky. The 441st Survey & Design Team will deploy to the Middle East. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. First Class Rebecca Wood)

Huffman said the hardest part of deploying is leaving his family and friends behind. His mother, Teresa Price from Gainesville, Virginia, remained misty-eyed throughout the departure ceremony.

“The hardest part will be not being able to pick up the phone and talk to him whenever I want,” said Price.

Huffman’s father, Wade Huffman from Beckley, West Virginia, conveyed he was grateful for the man his son has become and the work he does for his country.

“I am so proud of him,” said Wade. “He is ready for the task at hand.”

Soldiers of the 441st will depart for Fort Hood, Texas for their final pre-mobilization training prior to deploying overseas. They are expected to return home in the fall of 2016.

 

 

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