RALEIGH, N.C. – Families and friends said farewell to 13 members of the North Carolina National Guard's 1131st and 1132nd Engineer Detachments in Mooresville, N.C., July 28. The units are deploying on a 12-month mission, conducting well drilling operations while serving under Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) in Djibouti, Africa.
“This mission will capitalize on your vital engineering skills, your ability to work jointly with engineers from other military branches and your knowledge of the soils, terrain and the environment of Africa itself,” said Army Brig. Gen. Beth Austin, assistant adjutant general for sustainment of North Carolina.
Austin and other dignitaries wished the unit well in their mission and praised them for their expertise in well-drilling operations. This mission will be the unit’s second visit to Africa since 2007.
Their main mission will be to tap into additional ground-water resources for drinking water and agricultural needs for Djibouti and the surrounding area.
The supporters applauded as the Soldiers of the unit marched into the Southside Baptist Church where the ceremony was held. The day was full of smiles, tears and hugs as families and friends celebrated the Soldiers' service.
"The National Guard has done much in recent years to help sustain the freedom we all enjoy as Americans,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, in a letter read during the ceremony. “The sacrifice being made by those in this unit is greatly appreciated, and I know they will represent North Carolina and the United States of America in the best way possible.”
The units received flags from the town of Mooresville, presented by Mayor Miles Atkins, who also spoke at the event. The units were also given North Carolina state flags to fly over their unit headquarters while they are deployed.
“My Soldiers have strived to take care of me and I have made every attempt to do the same for them,” said Army 2nd Lt. Lauren Johnson, detachment commander, 1131st and 1132nd Engineers.
Johnson commented that his Soldiers were looking forward to conducting the well drilling operations and helping the people in the region have clean drinking water.
“I am excited for the experiences that this deployment will bring and the relationships it will reinforce,” said Johnson. “I have complete confidence in my Soldiers’ ability to accomplish the mission.”
After the ceremony, members from the official party composed of leaders from the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the mayor of Mooresville, State Senator from North Carolina’s 41st District, Chris Carney and Brig. Gen. Austin shook hands with members of the 1131st and 1132nd.
The units will depart for Camp Atterbury, Ind., where they will complete follow-on training before reporting to Djibouti this summer.
- 30 -