This item originally appeared in the April 22, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
By RINDY METCALF
Louisiana National Guard members from the 527th Engineering Battalion will deploy to Honduras in the coming week to build schools and other facilities as part of their latest public assistance mission.
Col. David McGee, commander of the 527th Engineering Battalion in Ruston, said the battalion has units located in Ruston, West Monroe, Pineville and Bossier City, but the battalion will send personnel from only two of the units for this mission.
McGee said to protect the battalion, he cannot disclose the date of deployment, but said the mission will be complete by June.
"The Bravo Company located here in Ruston and the Alpha Company located in Pineville have personnel who will be deploying to Honduras," McGee said.
The soldiers of the 527th Engineering Battalion will finish the construction of two schools and one clinic in the Aguan Valley of Honduras, McGee said.
"I have been in the Louisiana National Guard for 21 years, and I can only remember one year where we did not have missions similar to this," McGee said. "In the past the Louisiana engineering units have conducted similar construction missions in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Belize, Germany, Italy, Jordan and Norway."
The 527th Engineering Battalion provided construction support during wartime for the first time during Desert Storm and most recently in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
"These missions provide great training for the soldiers, as well as a chance to travel," McGee said. "Training missions, like Honduras, allow us to participate in realistic training while also helping countries that are not as fortunate as the United States."
Tech Police Chief Stephen Quinnelly, a staff sergeant in the National Guard, will go on this training mission along with about 15 Tech students.
Quinnelly said the unit that will travel to Honduras recently came back from eight months of active duty. Six of those months they lived on a base in Afghanistan.
Quinnelly will go into logistics for this mission, a job which entails the receiving and issuing of supplies.
"It's like combining property control, purchasing and warehousing on Tech campus," Quinnelly said. "It's where you would sign up for things and get supplies."
Quinnelly said university students will work as carpenters, plumbers and bulldozer operators, among other jobs.
"Working on public assistance projects in foreign countries is one of my favorite types of military duty because you get to experience the culture of a different country and expose the people to American culture while training and assisting in the local area," Quinnelly said.
Sgt. Cody Crum, a freshman basic and career studies major, has been a member of the National Guard for seven years and has gone on two public assistance missions.
Crum said his group is responsible for the construction of the rooms and roofs of the clinic and schools.
Crum assisted in the 1999 trip to Honduras and the 2001 trip to Belize and said he enjoys the change of scenery. He said there is a definite reason the National Guard was chosen.
"They chose us because they know we will do the best job we can," Crum said. "It's just a good use of resources."