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MONDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2014  01:26:26 PM

79th Ord Bn redeploys, reunites

Email   Print   Share By Spc. Kimberly Millett, III Corps Public Affairs
February 11, 2010 | News
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Emma shows her dad, Maj. Eric Larsen, the welcome home sign she made for his arrival. Larsen reunited with his wife and two daughters Tuesday after a yearlong deployment to Iraq with the 79th Ordnance Bn. Spc. Kimberly Millett, III Corps Public Affairs
On Tuesday, troops of the 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) returned from a yearlong deployment to Baghdad, Iraq, and reunited with their families at the Chaffee/McNair Community Life Center.

The children and wives of the deployed Soldiers waved handmade posters and signs to welcome them back to Fort Hood. The United Services Organization provided food for the event and bedding for the single Soldiers and geographic bachelors.

The battalion took command of Joint Task Force Troy – Baghdad in support of 1st Cavalry Division and subordinate brigades last February, Lt. Col. Geoffrey Stevens, the battalion commander, said. From its headquarters on Camp Victory, the battalion exercised command and control of all the counter-improvised explosive device units in Baghdad, including three EOD companies from Fort Hood: the 752nd Ordnance Company, 797th Ordnance Company and the 704th Ordnance Company. The 797th Ordnance Co. returned from deployment last December, one month after the 704th Ordnance Co.

“It was a real eventful deployment. I think we were very successful in coordinating the counter-IED fight,” Stevens said.

Though the battalion was successful at its mission, it came at a cost.

“They all did extremely well over there,” Stevens said. “It’s said that in our line of work, there’s always a lot of risks and I’m sad to say that one of our Soldiers didn’t make it back with us. Staff Sgt. (Edmond) Lo was killed in action on June 13 near Samarra.”

Lo served with the 797th Ordnance Co.

Throughout the brigade’s deployment, the security situation in Iraq improved.

“The number of IEDs in the city was reduced drastically,” Stevens said. “It was cut by a third from the time we first got there. The Iraqi EOD forces that we were transitioning with probably grew three-fold while we were there as well. We focused a lot on partnership and helping the Iraqis to develop an effective counter-IED force,” he added.

The deployment was professionally rewarding, Maj. Eric Larsen, battalion executive officer, said. The battalion got missions its leadership wasn’t expecting such as its partnership mission. It executed missions that its troops had not trained for.

“It went very well,” Staff Sgt. Henry St. Charles, EOD team leader, said. “Our partnership helped the Iraqis understand how to use the tools and the methods we gave them.” It was important that they learned not to mimic the U.S. Soldiers work but to learn their methodology.

“We also learned their ways and adapted and made it happen,” St. Charles added.

Though proud of all the work he accomplished in Iraq, St. Charles is glad to be back with his wife and looks forward to visiting with family and catching up.

Stevens couldn’t agree more. “(I’m) looking forward to reuniting with the family and getting back into the swing of things. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Stevens said. “A year is a long time to be deployed.”
 
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