Commander: Local Guard staying busy in Kuwait

Commander: Local Guard staying busy in Kuwait
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
It’s been a productive five months in Kuwait for the Union City-based 913th Engineer Co.
So far, members of the local Tennessee Army National Guard unit have completed over 35 horizontal construction projects.
Company commander Capt. Jacob Partridge told The Messenger those completed projects have accumulated over 10,000 equipment hours and have included moving over 7,500 dump truck loads of soil or gravel.
Projects have included construction and main-tenance of lots used to store equipment or supplies throughout Kuwait, as well as a little de-construction of facilities no longer needed there.
“We have also constructed or maintained more than 13 miles’ worth of road,” Partridge said.
The 160-plus members of the 913th Engineer Co. — part of the 194th Engineer Brigade — have been serving overseas in Kuwait since Oct. 9, 2011, after being deployed in August.
The local soldiers left Union City on Aug. 18, 2011, for a 12-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and spent over a month training at Fort Bliss, Texas, and in the New Mexico desert before flying to the Middle East.
Kuwait time is nine hours ahead of West Tennessee and it was 9:20 p.m. in Kuwait when the company commander contacted The Messenger at 12:20 p.m. local time Tuesday. A typical work day for the soldiers there usually begins between 7 and 8 a.m. and ends between 4 and 6 p.m.
Partridge said the soldiers recently passed the halfway point in their year-long deployment and the initial planning of their end-of-deployment operations has actually started. He said although excitement is building for the return home, there is still a lot of work to be done in Kuwait.
“You’re always excited when you think about going home, but we still have a lot to do,” he said. “We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The 913th should return home to Tennessee in August of this year and Partridge explained the soldiers will come home by way of Fort Bliss, where they will spend about a week for military outprocessing.
He said by August, the temperatures in Kuwait should be very warm — a sharp contrast to the average high of about 75 and average low around 50 that the soldiers are currently seeing.
“Right now, it’s pretty nice,” Partridge said. “There’s almost always a pretty good wind here. That makes it feel a little bit cooler.”
However, by June, the average high should be around 110 and the low around 80. The company commander said it was still quite warm when the soldiers arrived in Kuwait last October and temperatures then were around 100 degrees during the day.
“It cooled off about the end of November,” he said.
Partridge said he has been in the Middle East before in August and seen temperatures over 130 degrees during the day — with the hottest months being June, July and August.
While in Kuwait, the 913th’s soldiers have had a couple of joint missions with the Kuwaiti military and occasionally have opportunities to send small groups of soldiers to downtown Kuwait for tours or to visit museums. On a daily basis, though, Partridge said the soldiers don’t have much interaction with the Kuwaiti people other than “just sharing the highways.”
Still, home is where the heart is, and Partridge said the local soldiers are continuing to receive a lot of support from family and friends back home in the form of care packages and correspondence.
“That means a lot,” said Partridge, his voice filled with emotion. “Knowing that they’re thinking about us means more than what they actually put in the mailbox.”
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 3.8.12

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