New 624th Vertical Construction

Company 'Goes to Work'

 

By Maj. Hank McIntire

Published July 26, 2007

 

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Capt. Todd Christensen, center, commander of the 115th Engineer Detachment, prepares to roll up his unit colors for the last time June 9.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Capt. Todd Christensen, center, commander of the 115th Engineer Detachment, prepares to roll up his unit colors for the last time June 9.

SPRINGVILLE, Utah — The Springville-based 489th Utilities Detachment and 115th Engineer Detachment of the Utah National Guard consolidated as the 624th Vertical Construction Company in a ceremony at the Springville armory June 9.

At the ceremony, Lt. Col. Milada Copeland, commander of the 115th Engineer Battalion, oversaw the retiring of unit flags for the 489th and 115th and the unveiling of the new colors of the 624th.

The 489th deployed to Kuwait in 2002-2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the 115th served in Afghanistan in 2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Since the mid 1980s when the 489th and 115th came into existence, they have also been involved in numerous construction projects building schools, clinics and other infrastructure in Africa, Germany, Honduras, Nicaragua and on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Capt. Vince Wolff, left, commander of the 489th, hands the colors to Sgt. 1st Class Barney before encasing them as the unit is deactivated.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Capt. Vince Wolff, left, commander of the 489th, hands the colors to Sgt. 1st Class Barney before encasing them as the unit is deactivated.

The mission of the 624th will be to provide field-expedient vertical construction support in a combat theater of operations.

“This is an historic occasion, not only because of a new unit and a new commander, but this is an opportunity to see history repeat itself,” said Copeland of the fact that the 489th and 115th were once a single unit that was divided in the 1980s. “It moves the Engineers and signifies a bright future for them,” she said.

Copeland explained the concept of ‘transformation,’ the new buzzword describing the new direction for Engineer units Armywide, which includes moving the focus from a Cold War-type enemy to the more versatile and unpredictable threat in today’s world.

“Units are getting smaller, more deployable and equipment is getting lighter, [but] Engineering specialties are still required,” Copeland said.

“You can feel good about what you’re doing every time you put on the uniform because you are making history happen,” Copeland told the Soldiers assembled. “You bring an exceptional attitude to this process of change.”

Outgoing commander of the 489th, Capt. Vince Wolff, of Midvale, spoke briefly to his Soldiers and praised their professionalism.

“It’s been an honor and a pleasure,” he said. “I appreciate all your hard work. Pat yourselves on the back.”

Capt. Jeremy Neville, right, receives the new colors of the 624th from Lt. Col. Milada Copeland, commander of the 115th Engineers.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Capt. Jeremy Neville, right, receives the colors of the 624th from

Lt. Col. Milada Copeland, commander of the 115th Engineers.

Capt. Todd Christensen, of Orem, commander of the now-deactivated 115th Engineer Detachment, encouraged his Soldiers to finish what they had started under his direction.

I know you will continue to perform like you have done for me under the colors of the 624th,” he said. “I’ve heard nothing but good comments about your work and your bearing. All of you have served during a time of war, and that is something you can be proud of.”

Taking over for Wolff and Christensen under a new flag, Capt. Jeremy Neville, a Layton resident, assumes command of the 160 Soldiers of the new unit. Neville’s guidance to his troops was brief and to the point.

“The 116th and 489th have left a legacy and built a culture of professionalism,” he said. “The 624th will carry that reputation forward.”

The new commander also introduced a unit motto, which he instructed his Soldiers to sound off with when they are called to attention in formation.

Neville concluded his remarks by saying, “We are professionals, building the future.” He then called the unit to attention, and his Soldiers responded with the new slogan, a resounding, “Go to work!”