Tallahassee-based engineer unit returns from Iraq

Written by  //  May 19, 2009  //  Feature Stories

FORT STEWART, Ga. (May 19, 2010) — More than 150 members of a Florida Army National Guard engineer unit returned home to the United States early Wednesday morning, following a year-long mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Soldiers from the 779th Engineer Battalion, based in Tallahassee, Fla., arrived at Ft. Stewart, Ga., at daybreak to a throng of cheering family, friends, and military leaders.

Sgt. Samuel Carey of the 779th Engineer Battalion is reunited with his family at Fort Stewart, Ga., May 19, 2010, following a year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by Debra Cox

According to 779th Commander Lt. Col. Dwayne Jarriel, the unit served primarily in Mosul, Iraq, and completed more than 700 construction and engineering missions during its deployment.

“Our Soldiers did an outstanding job,” Jarriel, a resident of St. Augustine, Fla., said Wednesday morning. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

He added that in addition to construction missions – which included road and building construction – the men and women of his unit also trained Iraqi military and police, performed crater repair, and supported combat logistics patrols.

“It was a lot of work to accomplish in a short amount of time,” Jarriel said.

One of the unit’s Iraqi Partnership officers during the deployment, Capt. Kristopher Bice, noted that the 779th Engineer Battalion had a positive impact on the Iraqi police and military that they encountered.

“We were one of the first embedded training teams to actually live and work with the Iraqi Army engineers,” Bice, a Tallahassee resident, said. “I would say we had a pretty big impact.”

The unit deployed from Florida in late May 2009, and trained for several weeks at Ft. McCoy, Wis., before departing for Southwest Asia.

The 779th Engineer Battalion will complete post-mobilization processing at Ft. Stewart, and are tentatively scheduled to return to Florida early next week.