22nd Naval Construction Regiment Transfers Authority in Afghanistan
Navy News Service
Story Number: NNS120801-04
By Yeoman 3rd Class Travis J. Pawlikowski, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 Public Affairs
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Seabees assigned to the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), Task Force Stethem, took part in a Transfer of Authority ceremony at Kandahar Air Field with the U.S. Army's 411th Engineer Brigade, Task Force Empire, July 31.
The ceremony signals the end of a six month deployment in Afghanistan for Sailors of the 22nd NCR. More importantly, it marks a historic moment in Seabee history, because the 22nd NCR will be the final regiment to have deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The unit deployed as Task Force Stethem in honor of Steelworker 2nd Class (Diver) Robert Dean Stethem. In June 1985, Stethem was aboard TWA Flight 847 when it was hijacked by Hezbollah terrorists. When their demands were not met, Stethem was targeted as a member of the U.S. military, and was tortured.
Stethem was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, as he exemplified the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment, sacrificing his life to save the lives of the other passengers onboard.
The off-ramping of the unit is part of the surge recovery efforts to reduce U.S. forces in the theater as NATO continues to transition control of the country to the Afghans.
While units will continue the mission of Task Force Stethem, its presence will certainly be missed in Afghanistan.
"The joint engineer force of Task Force Stethem demonstrated unflinching fortitude and dauntless courage while executing vital freedom of maneuver projects, force protection measures, water wells, bridges, and tactical infrastructure builds to enhance combat power, command and control, and survivability for coalition forces combating insurgents in southern and western Afghanistan," said Capt. Kathryn A. Donovan, commodore of the 22nd NCR and Commander of Task Force Stethem.
"The enduring impact of these operations tangibly enabled three Regional Commands across Afghanistan to execute their counter insurgency missions and directly contributed to accomplishing strategic objectives."
One of the most notable accomplishments of the Regiment involved a partnership with the U.S. Air Force's 443rd Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. Together, the Navy and Air Force trained and instructed Afghan engineers assigned Kandahar Airfield and the 205th Corp of the Afghan National Army.
"It was a great mission to be a part of, knowing that you helped not only U.S. troops but the local citizens as well," said Constructionman Electrician 2nd Class Joshua Murphy, a Seabee with the 22nd NCR. "It's a bittersweet moment though, after ten years of a regiment being deployed, knowing you're the last one and all of the good you have accomplished here."
The 22nd NCR deployed to the Combined Joint Operations Area - Afghanistan from its homeport of Gulfport, Miss. Jan. 29, to provide command and control oversight of engineer construction effects across three regional commands in the country.
The regiment is a part of the Naval Construction Force, a military engineering force of qactive and Reserve component Seabees operating in support of U.S. and coalition missions worldwide.
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