Gov. Jindal addresses Louisiana National Guard Soldiers deploying to Kuwait

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal spoke at a departure ceremony for 162 members of the Louisiana National Guard's 1021st Vertical Engineer Company, which will depart for Kuwait to begin their 365-day deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Gov. Jindal said, "It is an honor to be here today with all these brave men and women who are about to go off and serve our country by fighting to preserve our freedom and liberty. All of Louisiana is grateful for the sacrifices these soldiers and their families are making.

"Building protective structures and electrical systems are key to a successful military strategy abroad, and the men and women of the 1021st Vertical Engineer Company will be working on these projects in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. We will forever be grateful to the men and women of this unit for answering the call to defend our American way of life. I join Louisianians everywhere in wishing them a safe return home."

Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the Adjutant General of Louisiana said, "I always tell people that Guardsmen are my favorite Americans. The majority of our Guardsmen are citizens working in the private sector, and the majority of the time they have families that they raise and care for, and when our country calls, they never ask why, they just go. They put their careers on hold, put their families on hold, put their education on hold, they pick up their bags and they go. Whether it is in this state helping our citizens in times of emergency or in a country like Kuwait helping support our nation."

The deployment mission of the 1021st Vertical Engineering Company abroad will be to conduct vertical construction operations in and around the area of Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Vertical construction operations will include building concrete operations, plumbing and electrical systems.

The 1021st Vertical Engineering Company's home station is in Covington, Louisiana, with two detachment locations in Independence and Gonzales. The unit commander is Captain Noel Bellas. Its soldiers live and work in communities throughout Louisiana. When the unit is at home, the 1021st Vertical Engineer Company provides personnel and equipment to conduct contra flow, security, engineer assessments and work teams in support of State Emergency Operations.

The 1021st Vertical Engineer Company is part of the larger 205th Engineer Battalion of the Louisiana National Guard. The 205th Engineer Battalion celebrated its 100th Birthday on January 22, 2013. The 205th Battalion was originally known as the 105th and was first activated in 1916 for a border patrol mission on the US-Mexico border.

As the 105th, it served over the years as an anti-aircraft Battalion within the 39th Infantry Division, then as an Armored Cavalry Squadron before finally becoming the 205th Engineer Battalion assigned to LANG construction-related activities. The 205th Engineer Battalion has been utilized for federal service on numerous other occasions in addition to the border service, including activation during WWI, WWII and The Global War on Terrorism.

Today, many units within the 205th Engineer Battalion are deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait. The 1021st Vertical Engineer Company is one of several units assigned to join the rest of the 205th Battalion.

The 1021st Vertical Engineer Company was previously activated for federal service in 2005 to support recovery operations after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and in 2008 to support recovery operations after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

In 2011, the 1021st was activated again to assist Task Force River Guardian, where soldiers performed emergency operations in response to flood threats – including levee repair, levee reinforcement and numerous haul missions. In 2012, the unit was activated once more for emergency response operations and flood prevention missions after Hurricane Isaac.