Posted on Thu, Mar. 30, 2006
South Bend Marine unit facing Iraq deployment
By Kara Hull
The Journal Gazette

A South Bend-based Marine engineer company with about 125 members, including at least seven from Fort Wayne, will be deployed to Iraq this summer, officials said Wednesday.

Marines with Engineer Company B, the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, will be activated June 15 and deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom after several months of training split between South Bend and a base in California, said 1st Sgt. Robert Rhodes, a full-time staff member with the unit who also expects to be deployed with Company B.

The company is expected to be in Iraq for about seven months, he said.

This is the second time Company B has been deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom, the last assignment ending in June 2003.

This year’s deployment will also include some Marines from other 6th Engineer Support Battalions connected to the company, for a total of 170 Marines deploying for this mission, Rhodes said.

News of the deployment “wasn’t any surprise,” Rhodes said, adding that he had been hearing the unit would be reactivated ever since he arrived in South Bend in August 2005.

The Marines in the company are considered combat engineers. They will detect mines and other explosive devices and patrol roads used to transport supplies during their deployment, Rhodes said.

Marines also might build schools for Iraqi children or showers and restrooms for the U.S. military there, he said.

“I’m just very proud, very lucky, but at the same time, a little nervous,” said Nichole Mansfield, whose husband is preparing to return to Iraq with the unit.

“Your heart sinks a little bit. I hate to see him go.”

Her husband, Todd Mansfield, said it helps to have a spouse who understands the Marine lifestyle.

“She married into the Marine Corps,” he said. “She knows what I do, and she’s very supportive.”
Troop specifics

Unit: Engineer Company B

Type: Marine Force Reserve

Established: 1971

Members: About 125

Headquarters: South Bend

Previous deployments: Returned in June 2003 from Operation Iraqi Freedom; deployed in 1991 for Operation Desert Storm

Connected to: 6th Engineer Support Battalion units based in: Peoria, Illinois; Gary, Ind.; Youngstown and Lexington, Ky.