JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD The 787th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 3rd Ordnance Battalion is deploying to Afghanistan, likely for the last time of the current conflict.
The around 50 Soldiers assigned to the company watched as their leaders cased its colors May 1 for the trip to Southwest Asia. Commander Capt. Corey W. Harris pointed out how appropriate the nickname Patriots was for a company deploying to continue defending (the U.S.).
Soldiers of the 787th EOD Co. will be one of the last units downrange for Operation Enduring Freedom because of the continuing drawdown. The unit will support 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson during its nine-month tour. The company supported the 4th IBCT during its last round at the National Training Center this winter.
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Kavanaugh, 3rd Ord. Bn. commander, said the company was a veteran one that had succeeded each time it went downrange, and that he expected no less this time.
Operations NCOIC Staff Sgt. Anthony Shaw said the unit would reorganize into around 10 teams upon arrival in Afghanistan, prepared to send technicians to wherever they are needed while primarily responding to direction from the 4th IBCT.
Unlike previous deployments, Shaw said this time the company will operate as a reserve element. The Afghan military and police will take the lead on all missions, unless ordnance is found on a U.S. base or property.
This is Shaws fourth deployment during the Global War on Terrorism, all with ordnance units, and his second with the 787th to Afghanistan.
I enjoy the hell out of it over there, he said. Right here, we do a lot of training, we do a lot of real ordnance incidents, we deal with IEDs in Washington all the way down to the coast of Oregon. When you go overseas, you see how you employ the training you receive here in the real world.
EOD teams typically have a lot of independence in the field, Shaw said. During an IED response operation the team leader, usually a staff sergeant, has full authority over the situation until its solved.
And though the company is always prepared to back up a team during an operation, team leaders re on their own on patrol.
He may go out for an entire year and not see the command team except for flight visits to check equipment, Shaw said. He has to have a wide responsibility and knowledge to support a mission by himself.
At least one Soldier in the company soon will experience that responsibility. William Rohler, 23, was promoted from corporal to sergeant just before the casing ceremony. This will be his second deployment.
Jake Dorsey: email@example.com