Guard’s 913th unit welcomes care packages at Christmas

Guard’s 913th unit welcomes care packages at Christmas
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
It’s Christmas in Kuwait.
And loved ones back home have helped make it special for the soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 913th Engineer Co.
The 164 soldiers from the Union City-based 913th Engineer Co. have been busy working in Kuwait since arriving there Oct. 9.
The unit, part of the 194th Engineer Brigade, left Union City Aug. 18 for a 12-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The soldiers spent over a month training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and in the New Mexico desert before flying to the Middle East.
As Christmas fast approaches, company commander Capt. Jacob Partridge told The Messenger the unit has been “flooded with care packages stuffed with goodies from back home.”
“I would like to say thank you to everyone back home for the support that has been given to us,” he said in an email received this morning. “These packages are very touching to us and remind us that there are those back home who support and love us. It is this support and love that help us drive on with our mission over here.”
Partridge said one of the main holiday events for soldiers in Kuwait will likely be the Christmas meal to be served in the dining facility.
“They go all out decorating and with the meal they provide for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he said.
He said the Morale, Welfare and Recreation office in Kuwait has been providing many concerts with celebrity performers from back home and many other events have been planned to boost the soldiers’ spirits.
“These concerts help to boost morale and, for a moment, take our minds off of being away from home,” Partridge said. “Our unit has also organized many events for our soldiers to participate in over the next couple of weeks. These events range from football, basketball and volleyball games to decoration contests, card games and video game contests.”
Work continues
Partridge also shared about the 913th’s most recent work in Kuwait in the form of an update from 1st Lt. David Lyle, platoon leader for the unit’s 1st Platoon.
“Operations are beginning to smooth out for us here in Kuwait,” Lyle said.
He explained the 913th’s 1st Platoon has been stationed away from the main element for a little over a month now. In the last month, soldiers have completed their first project, an Entry Control Point, which will help facilitate the drawdown from Iraq.
Spc. Joseph Aragon and Sgt. Chad Marlow were both awarded the Battalion Sergeant Major’s Coin for  performance and dedication during the first project.
“The soldiers of 1st Platoon have also built, in their spare time, a volleyball court just outside of our living quarters and we have officially challenged the rest of the company to a tournament,” Lyle added.
He said the Maintenance Section which has been supporting 1st Platoon — which includes Staff Sgt. David Kay, Marlow, Sgt. John Brown, Spc. Robert Tims and Spc. Donald Bruer — has been kept busy repairing the equipment left behind by the unit’s predecessors.
“They have spent some long nights turning wrenches in their motor pool in order to keep our equipment moving,” he said. “Sgt. Snapper Seaton and Sgt. Brandon Culver were tasked with supporting our sister company, the 188th Engineer Company’s 3rd Platoon, and, due to their exceptional operating skills, were able to get a stalled project back in motion. Of course, no one would expect any less from the soldiers of 1st Platoon.”
Lyle said outside of projects, soldiers from 1st Platoon have spent their time “getting settled into our home away from home.”
“You can walk into any soldier’s living area and begin to see more and more photos of family members and friends being displayed proudly,” he said. “Our long-awaited ‘black boxes’ are being unloaded right now. Mail has started arriving on a regular basis and morale has recovered from the difficult final goodbye we all feared back in the states. Do not get me wrong — we cannot wait to be back in the states, but, as for now, we are making it alright.”
He said several soldiers have established a rather intense workout routine and can be seen in the gym at least twice a day. Others have decided to continue their educations and are pursuing college classes at the Education Center and still others are taking advantage of the numerous Moral, Welfare and Recreation events available, including flag football.
“1st Platoon’s flag football teams began their season a few weeks ago and are determined to go after the championship title. What a surprise, right? Take care of Tennessee for us and we will see you all soon,” he said.
Published in The Messenger 12.19.11

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