18th Eng. Bde. cases colors, prepares for deployment

Story and photos by Pfc. David Huddleston
18th Eng. Bde. Public Affairs

SCHWETZINGEN, Germany — Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th Engineer Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, gathered at Tompkins Barracks June 7 to case the brigade’s colors in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

The headquarters will join their already deployed subordinate units in theater. The 54th Engineer Battalion and the 243rd Construction Management Team are both in Afghanistan, and the 15th Engineer Battalion is currently in Kuwait.

“We’re the last to deploy, and we’ve been leaning forward so far at times I think we’re about to fall over with anticipation,” said Col. Paul M. Paolozzi, the commander of the 18th Eng. Bde.

The 18th Eng. Bde. has been training and preparing for this deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom for the past year and is ready to take on the mission at hand.

“We have done a lot of training,” said Pfc. Chad Finholt, an 18th Eng. Bde. technical engineer specialist. “Sometimes it was rough and frustrating, but it was good training.”

All the training for the upcoming deployment has not solely been in Europe for the brigade, but preparations have required the unit to travel to places like Fort Hood, Texas, as they participated in Unified Endeavor 11-2.

“I feel that our unit has properly trained us and adequately prepared us from all levels, from the brigade level down to the section and MOS (military occupational specialty) level,” said Sgt. Darius Cooper, an 18th Eng. Bde. technical
engineer sergeant.

The 18th Eng. Bde. is no stranger to deployments, having returned from its last deployment to Iraq in 2009 and deployed several other times prior to that throughout the unit’s history.

“The training plan was well thought out, planned and executed,” said Capt. Joseph Caperna, the 18th Eng. Bde command group tactical officer. “The unit started at a crawl phase and progressed over the last year to a walk and then a run phase.”

The 18th Eng. Bde. will leave behind the 565th Eng. Bn. to serve as its rear detachment headquarters here.

“The 18th Eng. Bde. will be missed,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Annette Weber, the U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg command sergeant major. “Our loss is another nation’s benefit.”