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NEWS | April 29, 2016

Northeast Army engineers return from Middle East

By Adam Holguin Mobilization and Deployment, DPTMS Fort Bliss

The 716th Engineer Company, a U.S. Army Reserve unit headquartered in Somersworth, New Hampshire, with a detachment in Attleboro, Massachusetts, returned stateside April 18 after completing a deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of operations.

The vertical engineers completed a variety of missions in Kuwait, Jordan and throughout Iraq for coalition forces while in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve.

“We stood up fire bases. We did force protections.We built fighting and guard positions, set up power distribution and water distribution,” said 1st Lt. Eric Rueda, commander, 716th Eng. Co. “We also built operations centers for the 82nd Airborne and the 10th Mountain Division. We touched just about everything all over Iraq.”

The abilities of the unit were apparent in the variety of missions, of different size and scope, which were completed during this deployment.

“We had anywhere from a four man team go on missions to build something for coalition forces, all the way up to 30-40 man platoon size elements that went out to build larger structures,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Bitterman, executive officer, 716th Eng. Co.

“After arriving in Kuwait, we started splitting up, going to the four separate winds and we weren’t whole until a month prior to the end of the deployment,” Bitterman said. “We had to track our people from a distance.”

The ability of the Soldiers taking on missions throughout a vast area, spread out throughout the duration of the deployment was a source of pride for the 716th Eng. Co.

“The disciplined hard work of my Soldiers is what I am most proud of,” Rueda said. “They kept their head in the game, they worked hard, they didn’t get into trouble and they did a great job without really any oversight.”

After completing his first deployment with the Army, Sgt. Travis McCalla, senior mechanic in the maintenance section, took pride in his sections overall support of not only the 716th Eng. Co., but other units as well.

“I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit in, but it turned out that we were valuable to the company by up keeping equipment that was needed,” McCalla said. “Our guys also worked on equipment for other units in Kuwait. Some of us were tasked as a welding section to help repair whatever needed on Camp Arifjan. And then they broke us up to go on different mission in Iraq. We were very busy.”

Bitterman was most proud of the quality of the projects completed.

“The Soldiers of the 716th performed admirably the engineering missions that they were tasked were completed above and beyond standard,” Bitterman said. “We had some of the best finished products we received numerous accolades, thanks and appreciation.”

The unit will complete the demobilization process with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security before returning to their homes across the Northeast.

“After a year of a lot of hard work, the Soldiers are ready to be back with their families and looking forward to be back in New England,” Rueda said.

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