Story and Photos by
1st Lt. Andrew Thoma
65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
FORT SHAFTER FLATS — Overshadowing the Pro Bowl, the Soldiers of the 7th Engineer Dive Detachment, scored the most acclaimed touchdown of the week as they landed at Honolulu International Airport shortly after 3 p.m., Feb. 1.
After a yearlong deployment to Kuwait, the Soldiers, who are part of the 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, stepped off the plane and were greeted by Lt. Col. Dan Koprowski, commander, 65th Eng. Bn., and Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Constante, senior enlisted leader, 65th Eng. Bn.
The Soldiers displayed a collective sense of relief and excitement as they realized that they had finally made it back home and would soon be reunited with family and friends.
The detachment represents a highly specialized skill set. Army divers’ missions include underwater construction, salvage, demolitions and hydrographic survey. They also conduct bridge reconnaissance, underwater cutting and welding, countermine operations, and search-recovery operations.
For this reason, Army divers must constantly train to be proficient in their diverse taskings and stand ready to deploy across the globe when their services are required.
The unit, based in Kuwait, conducted missions in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Oman and Bahrain.
“Their ability to deploy small teams throughout Iraq and Afghanistan paid dividends for the U.S. and allied forces on a number of important missions,” Koprowski said.
Their missions included inspecting and surveying of major underwater ports, training local nationals in underwater demolitions, inspecting multiple dams in support of multimillion dollar engineering projects, and force protection in the form of security swims.
“Military dive operations are complex and extremely technical, which makes sustainment training critical, even on deployment,” Koprowski said. “As with most things, the 7th Eng. Dive Det. set a high standard in this regard, with every diver on the team earning their salvage diver rating through the course of the year.”
Despite operating in hazardous and austere conditions, the 7th Eng. Dive Det. suffered no casualties and brought every Soldier home safely.