The 92nd Engineer Battalion, a tenant unit of the 3rd Infantry Division, prepared for deployment by casing its unit colors Thursday morning in a formal ceremony on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field.
The battalion will deploy for a nine-month tour in the southern region of Afghanistan. Referring to his unit’s “deconstruction” mission as a “retrograde operation,” Black Diamonds’ commander Lt. Col. Ken Boggs said the infrastructures his troops would disassemble include forward operating bases, including buildings and wire protecting the perimeter. Boggs said some of these structures will be dismantled “all the way back to dirt,” while others would be handed over to Afghan forces. He said his mission overall is to reduce American forces’ “footprint.”
On Thursday, braving strong, icy winds that battered the soldiers standing in formation as well as family members waiting in the reviewing stands, Boggs and Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lonning cased the unit’s colors under the supervision of Col. James Raymer, commander, 20th Engineer Brigade, which is headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C.
“This is the sixth deployment of the 92nd Engineer Battalion since 2001,” Raymer told soldiers and family members. “I thank you for your sacrifices … In the Army, we never quit until the mission is complete.”
Raymer explained that engineers were the ones who built the infrastructure used by American forces in Afghanistan for more than 10 years. Now that American forces are preparing to leave that country, engineers were the ones who would break down that infrastructure and bring the equipment home.
In his remarks, Boggs thanked everyone for attending the ceremony on a “chilly morning.”
“Most importantly, I’d like to thank our families,” Boggs said. “On a personal note, I’d like to thank my wife and our two beautiful children for coming today.”
While Boggs spoke to the media, Boggs’ son, Cole, 2, and daughter, Bella, 4, ran over to their father, each grabbing him by one of his legs. Mara Boggs crept behind her husband and gathered their children.
“Casing the colors symbolizes a unit is in transition,” Boggs said. “The colors are always wherever the commander is. To the families, this ceremony indicates the training preparation is over. The unit is ready to deploy.”
Boggs said the 530th Engineer Company, which just returned from Afghanistan in March 2012, will join the rest of battalion in June. Units deploying in the coming weeks include the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Forward Support Company, 984th Engineer Company, 554th Engineer Company and 526th Engineer Company.