Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fort Irwin engineers to return to Iraq

From Staff Reports

FORT IRWIN - The 1st Platoon, 58th Combat Engineering Company has been given orders to deploy to Iraq, Cpt. Tom Tarantino said on Tuesday.

Col. Mark Calvert said that the company, which is part of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, includes about 200 soldiers. They will go to Iraq early this summer and will conduct engineering missions such as ensuring mobility along routes.

"They're busy in the process of training up," Calvert said. The soldiers are getting training in negotiating, talking to Iraqi leaders and integrating their mission into Iraqi forces.

About 40 percent of the company's soldiers have been deployed before.

The unit previously spent one year in Iraq and returned to Fort Irwin in the summer of 2005. During that tour, the unit's duties included providing security for elections, doing combat patrols, operating traffic-control points, providing security for bridges and improving security at Abu Ghraib prison.

Sgt. Manuel Mendoza lost both of his legs in Sadr City, Iraq, in October 2004, when a roadside bomb went off. He received a Bronze Star.

Spc. Kenneth Bower was also injured in Sadr City that October. Explosives tore off 25 percent of his left calf and gave him shrapnel wounds and second- and third-degree burns. After that, Bower received his second purple heart. He received the first after being hit with shrapnel in August 2004