By Emily Baker

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD When the soldiers of the 62nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 13th Corps Support Command, return to the Middle East in the coming weeks, their mission will be to rebuild the hope of Iraq, their commanding general said Friday.

While the soldiers arent precisely sure what that entails, they have been practicing with construction projects at home.

The battalion, which cased its colors for deployment Friday, built a house in Copperas Cove, a municipal sign in Belton, a playground in Killeen and cleared an area for construction of a YMCA in Harker Heights.

The soldiers also have contributed to construction projects on post, like Fort Hoods first unimproved landing strip large enough to support the Air Forces C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane.

You have a very, very proud tradition, Brig. Gen. Michael J. Terry, commander of the 13th COSCOM, told the battalion. I know you will carry on that ... because I personally have seen what you can do.

The battalion, which is scheduled to leave for the Middle East before Christmas, last deployed to Iraq in January 2003, two months before the war started.

They were tasked with building a 224-mile-long fuel pipeline, which had to be in place before the war could begin. More than 720,000 gallons of fuel was pumped per day from Kuwait into Iraq through the pipeline, the longest built during the war, Terry said.

We will build on these accomplishments on this next rotation, said Lt. Col. John R. Boul, the battalions commander. Its time once again to load up the burdens the people of the United States and the Army have asked us to bear in the war on terrorism.

Between construction projects and responding to Hurricane Katrina relief along the Gulf Coast, the battalion has squeezed in field training and rotations at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Weve been training all summer and all fall, said Sgt. 1st Class John Hawkenson, a soldier of the battalions Charlie Company, which stood up two months ago. We trained this week. I feel pretty confident.

While their main role will not be combating insurgents, the battalions soldiers have been training so they will know how if necessary.

Weve been doing a lot of convoy training, said Sgt. Mary Ward, of the battalions Alpha Company.

Every soldier returned home alive from the battalions last deployment, Boul said, which he hopes to continue.

I have all the confidence in the world you will be well led and well taken care of, Terry told the soldiers.

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