4th MEB hosts combined “Fighter” homecoming for redeploying troops Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Story and photo by  Sgt. Kelly Malone
Special to GUIDON

A combined total of more than 90 Soldiers with the 515th Engineer Company and 49th Engineer K9 Detachment, 5th “Fightin’ Fifth” Engineer Battalion, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, braved the snow and ice to arrive at Fort Leonard Wood where friends and Family awaited at Baker Theater for a redeployment ceremony Dec. 14.
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Lt. Col. Sebastien Joly (center right), 5th Engineer Battalion commander, transfers responsibility of command as he salutes the company commanders of two redeploying units under his command, 515th Engineer Company (left) and 49th Engineer K9 Detachment (right) at a redeployment ceremony where more than 90 Soldiers returned to Fort Leonard Wood in time to spend the holidays with their loved ones, Dec. 14. The two units are returning from different missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Military working dogs, their handlers, engineers and support troops returned from supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, some sooner than others. The 515th Engr. Co. deployment was curtailed after just two months of route clearance in Afghanistan.

Not wanting to speak out of his lane, Lt. Col. Sebastien Joly, 5th Engr. Bn. commander, said it was his understanding that as part of the draw- down requirement, route clearance units had also started to draw down proportionally, therefore the 515th was identified to come home early in order to meet the draw down benchmarks that were put in place.

The 49th Engineer K9 Detachment deployed earlier this year for a typical 10-month tour.

“The 49th Engr. K9 Det. conducted unique operations and through their valiant efforts, they ensured the freedom of maneuver for any unit they worked for by attaching themselves to route-clearance packages increasing finds (of explosives) by 20 percent, said Capt. Chad Sparks, 49th Engr. K9 Det. commander. “As the last canine company headquarters element in Afghanistan, they successfully closed down two of the largest (military working dog) kennels in theater at both Bagram and Kandahar Airfields.”

Baker Theater filled with friends, fellow Soldiers and Families with all types of handmade signs and holiday greetings.

“We are incredibly grateful to be able to welcome home all these heroes to reunite them with their loved ones.  On behalf of a grateful nation please accept our thanks for your service and our sincerest wishes for a smooth transition back to live at Fort Leonard Wood,” Joly said.

Joly then quickly turned the units over to their first sergeants who dismissed the troops from the stage and into the waiting arms of their Families and comrades.

(Editor’s note: Malone is a photojournalist assigned to the  4th MEBB Public Affairs Office.)
Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 January 2014 )