By Sgt. Catherine Graham
890th Engineer Battalion
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – With the end of the deployment for 890th Engineer Battalion in the near future, soldiers gathered for an awards ceremony as the first of the individual ready reserve soldiers, who had joined the team for the deployment, set the initial stage for the 890th Engineer Battalion as it prepares for it's redeployment to its home station.
During the Jan. 13 ceremony, Lt. Col. Joe Hargett, the 890th Engineer Battalion commander, who is a native of Madison, Miss., presented Army Commendation Medals to 17 IRR soldiers as they prepared to depart theater. The battalion serves under Multinational Division-Baghdad's 926th Engineer Brigade.
He thanked the soldiers for their sacrifice, hard work and dedication to the Army and their nation. The citation of each award was read separately so each soldier could be recognized for his contribution.
Following the award presentation, Hargett also spoke to the soldiers about the benefits of re-enlisting, and the benefits of a military career and retirement, joking that the battalion's retention noncommissioned officer was waiting them outside the exit door.
He told the troops he would provide any of them a letter of recommendation or character reference to help them with obtain employment when they return home.
"Most of these soldiers were involuntarily recalled to serve their country again after they had left active duty and returned to life as a civilian," said Hargett. "A few had left the military as long as 10 years or more; their sacrifice is extraordinary. Their obligation with the 890th has come to an end, and as an exit note, I would like to say: 'Job very well done.'"
Although they are merely the first to depart, their fellow soldiers said they would be missed. "They will be missed," said Sgt. Carmen Guerrero, a native of Hattiesburg, Miss., who serves with the 890th Engineer Battalion.
"At one time, they were outsiders just stepping in, and now that we have gotten to know them, they have become close friends. It is always hard to say goodbye to friends, but I wish them the very best. It's been an honor serving alongside these men and women," Guerrero said.
Similar to how the Tigris and Euphrates rivers played a key role in the development of civilization in the region, the IRR soldiers played an important role in the development of the 890th Engineer Battalion, it its success in accomplishing its mission. The soldiers joined the battalion at the mobilization station at Fort McCoy, Wis., and became valued members of the team, serving as mechanics, welders, personnel security detail members, truck drivers, and served professionally in whatever capacity needed.