MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined family and friends at a formal sendoff ceremony for the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 924th Engineer Facility Detachment Jan. 16 in Madison, Wisconsin.
The 14-Soldier detachment will deploy to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, where they will provide department of public works services for the base — design solutions, minor facility repair and maintenance, environmental assessments and remediation expertise.
“We will be the department of public works for what is the equivalent of a small city in Kuwait,” Maj. William Kesselring, commander of the Kuwait-bound detachment, said during the sendoff ceremony. Their workload could range from repairing faulty light switches to designing and managing million-dollar construction projects.
“We have a great team,” Capt. Brent Flaten of Madison, Wisconsin — a construction project manager with the detachment — said after the ceremony. “We’re all hand-picked based on civilian education, whether it be in engineering or construction experience that we have. Everyone that’s on the team has a purpose, whether it be civil engineering, mechanical, electrical, carpenters, masons — you name it. It’s a good team to go with. We have a wide breadth of specialties, and I’m confident we’re going to do great things.”
Capt. Jessica Burch, unit architect, agreed.
“I’m excited to work with this team,” she said. “I’ve worked with them independently in different roles. Because a lot of us have worked together, I know the quality of what we’re going to produce is going to be outstanding.”
Burch, a Norwich, Wisconsin resident, deployed previously to Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Luke Wollenziehn of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, also deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. He brings civilian experience with horizontal engineering to this deployment, where he will ensure quality assurance.
“I don’t know how much of the horizontal stuff we’ll be constructing over there, but we’re all going to come together and do whatever it is that needs to be done,” he said.
Kesselring acknowledged recent unrest with Iran, but assured family and friends that their deploying Soldiers would be safe in Kuwait.
“It’s kind of like we’re deploying to Germany — it’s a little bit hotter with a bit more sand,” Kesselring joked. “Have no fear.”
Brig. Gen. Robyn Blader, assistant adjutant general for readiness and training, spoke to the unit about its readiness for their upcoming mission.
“We just cased your colors, which means that your leadership has no doubt you are well-trained and ready for the mission that lies ahead of you,” Blader said. “We have no doubt that you are going to succeed beyond our expectations.”
Blader also called the deploying Soldiers’ families “unsung heroes,” providing strength and stability from the home front.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader, said that was a defining characteristic of the National Guard.
“We put our lives on hold back home so we can do our work overseas,” Conde said. “The job that you’re about to do is significant.”
Blader told the deploying troops that they would add to the Wisconsin National Guard’s proud history, “a noble history of service, patriotism and sacrifice.”
Gov. Tony Evers expressed the state’s pride in the deploying unit.
“You are the very best the state has to offer,” Evers said, “and you also embody the values Wisconsinites bring to the table — selflessness, hard work, dedication, and you represent the state well no matter where you go.”
The detachment will first head to Fort Bliss, Texas to complete pre-deployment requirements.