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Published: Saturday, 10/16/2004

Monclova Army Reservists called up for overseas duty

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Army Reservists with the 983rd Engineer Battalion are going to Iraq or Afghanistan, the first deployment of the unit in an armed conflict since World War II.

The 983rd has an authorized force of 630, with headquarters and one company in Monclova Township.

A company is based in Lima, Ohio - a third of its members are stationed in Bryan - and another is in Southfield, Mich., said Maj. Chris Dziubek, executive officer of the battalion.

Active duty begins Oct. 27 with training stateside.

"All we're being told is that we'll be shipped to [the Central Command theater of operations], which takes in Iraq and Afghanistan," said 1st Sgt. Richard Kistner, of the A Company in Lima.

The 983rd has received alerts of a possible call to active duty at least twice since Sept. 11, 2001. Word arrived last month of the deployment.

"It's been a little bit antsy," Sergeant Kistner said. "We've been alerted twice before, and [then] they said we weren't going. Now they say it's the real thing."

Major Dziubek said the orders call for a deployment of 18 months.

The 983rd builds roads and runways as well as wood-frame and masonry structures. The unit doesn't yet know its overseas duty.

"We're soldiers first, and we're engineers second," Major Dziubek said. "So however the Army decides to use us is something we won't learn until we get there."

The 983rd has not been deployed to an armed conflict since World War II, Major Dziubek said.

The battalion has been deployed overseas - most recently in Egypt on Sept. 10, 2001, for a construction project.

Individual members of the 983rd have been assigned to other units that were ordered overseas, Major Dziubek said. The first wave of those members returned in March; the second wave is still on active duty.

The 983rd members now preparing to leave have maintained contact with their comrades overseas, Major Dziubek said. "So everyone's eyes are open to the realities," he said. "There's some anxiety, some fear of the unknown, but generally there seems to be a great deal of anticipation and a desire to get it under way, a desire to do a good job, and a desire to bring everyone home."



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