2nd Lt. Kyle Suchomski
65th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade,8th Theater Sustainment Command
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Late in the evening, three busses packed with Soldiers arrived at Wheeler Gulch’s contingency warehouse, here, escorted from Hickam Air Force Base by more than two dozen motorcycles, Dec. 21, 2011.
The warehouse was packed with a large crowd of family and friends anxiously waiting to see their Soldiers again.
The busses slowly unloaded, as the Soldiers gathered their gear and wiped sleep from their eyes.
After a yearlong deployment, Soldiers of the 82nd Engineer Support Company, “Gravediggers,” 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, were finally home.
Late in 2010, the Gravediggers deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. The engineer unit was attached to the 20th Eng. Bde.’s 326th Eng. Bn. while deployed.
The Gravediggers were charged with providing defensive improvements, commonly referred to as force protection, to units across Iraq. As one of the last units out of Iraq, the 82nd ESC was responsible for helping to pack up “friendly” installations across the theater.
The company’s outstanding performance in Iraq was due in large part to the professionalism and dedication of its Soldiers, according to Capt. Raymond Mockus, commander, 82nd ESC, and 1st Sgt. Robert Ocasio, senior enlisted leader, 82nd ESC.
“Everyone shouldered the burden of packing up for other units, which was especially difficult while watching so many of them leave theater,” Mockus said. “It was really great to see my guys keep motivation high throughout the entire process.”
Despite hazardous and often hostile conditions, the 82nd ESC suffered no casualties during the deployment and brought every Soldier home safely.
The Gravediggers completed a wide array of missions while downrange, but one of the most exciting was the more than 10-hour convoy out of Iraq and into Kuwait.
“We all breathed a sigh of relief once we got into Kuwait,” Mockus said.
As Soldiers reunited with loved ones back in Hawaii, it was clear that everyone was excited to be home. Soldiers of the 82nd ESC said they are looking forward rekindling relationships with family and catching up with friends.