Northwest Indiana is welcoming home the 713th Engineer Company today. Soldiers are scheduled to arrive this morning at Gary/Chicago International Airport. The 713th Engineer Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2011. The company cleared combat and supply routes of explosive ordnance placed by terrorists. About 100 Soldiers deployed from the Valparaiso-based unit, and six Soldiers were killed in action. The 713th Soldiers were headquartered in Kandahar province.
In January Sgt. Brian Leonhardt of Merrillville, Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Metzger of Indianapolis, Specialist Robert Tauteris Jr. of Hamlet, and Specialist Christopher Patterson of North Aurora, Illinois, and a student at Valparaiso University were killed in an attack in January. Specialist Douglas Rachowicz of Hammond was the lone survivor; he received the Purple Heart in a ceremony May 4 at the Valparaiso Armory.
In July, the Indiana National Guard says Specialist Sergio Perez Jr. of Crown Point and Specialist Nicholas Taylor of Berne in northeast Indiana were killed during an attack in Afghanistan.
Here is the news release from the Indiana National Guard:
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, received notification that 713th Engineer Company Soldiers are scheduled to return at approximately 11:50 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26, to the Army Aviation Support Facility in Gary, Ind., at the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
The 713th Engineer Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2011.The company cleared combat and supply routes of explosive ordnance placed by terrorists.
Approximately 100 Soldiers deployed from the Valparaiso-based unit, and six Soldiers were killed in action. The 713th Soldiers were headquartered in Kandahar province.
Soldiers of 713th Engineer Company formed two route clearance platoons, as well as headquarters and maintenance sections.
In addition to the two platoons, the unit was tasked to command and control two additional active-duty Army platoons that also conducted route clearance. This brought the number of assigned Soldiers to more than 150.
The 713th platoons conducted 371 missions and cleared approximately 14,000 miles of routes for Afghan citizens, Afghan security forces, U.S. forces and international forces. The two attached platoons conducted 360 missions and cleared approximately 17,000 miles of routes.
The 713th Soldiers directly supported the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and U.S. forces.
The company, commanded by Capt. Cecil W. Pendleton III, Indianapolis, demobilized at Fort Bliss, Texas. The Soldiers will be dismissed to join
their families and return home. The 713th will spend the next year focusing on transitioning to their civilian lives.