SPOONER, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined families and friends at a formal sendoff ceremony Oct. 19 for approximately 150 Soldiers of the 829th Engineer Company, located in Spooner and Ashland.
The 829th will support the Indiana Army National Guard’s 113th Engineer Battalion, which is deploying to the Middle East.
“I am confident we can do the mission before us — above standard,” Capt. Joseph Tadisch, unit commander, said during the ceremony. “I am excited and proud to take this unit overseas.”
Tadisch and 1st Sgt. Sean Ringer will serve as the unit command team for the deployment.
“I’ve watched this team grow to where it is today,” Ringer said. “I am confident in the skills obtained through our military occupational specialties, and our extensive construction background and civilian experience — which I am fully confident will go above and beyond any active duty component in the United States Army.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted leader, told those attending the sendoff ceremony that because National Guard members work and attend school in the civilian community, they bring additional assets to the fight.
“You guys ready to go?” he asked the deploying unit. “One thing I will ask you to do when you get down to Fort Bliss is take the opportunity to continue your training. Train hard, train safe — we want to be sure you’re ready for whatever happens.”
Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, applauded the families of Soldiers who have deployed previously.
“It is a tough job, and I think it’s a tougher job being left behind because you’re worrying for your Soldier, waiting for your Soldier to come home, wondering how your Soldier is doing,” Mathews said. “The stronger you are for your Soldier, the easier it is for our Soldiers who are deploying to do their job.”
Mathews and Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, thanked the families and employers of the deploying Soldiers for their support.
“I can see the pride in your eyes for your Soldier — your son, your daughter, your husband, your wife — going downrange today,” Dunbar said. “I also see the anguish in your eyes. Nobody wants to say goodbye to someone they love for a year, especially to go to a faraway land. But we all know it’s important — it’s important for our country.”
Dunbar presented a challenge coin to the 829th Engineer Company’s Family Readiness Group leader, Louise Engness. He said the nation’s founding fathers understood the importance of the Citizen-Soldier.
“Our symbol is the Minuteman, and you see that Minuteman is walking away from the plow,” Dunbar explained. “That plow represents everything in this country that we care about — our job, our community, our employer, our family. These men and women are willing to walk away to do a mission for our country in a faraway land. That’s noble, and that’s awesome, and these men and women are worthy of our support.”
Gov. Tony Evers, commander-in-chief of the Wisconsin National Guard, agreed.
“I am so grateful for your service to Wisconsin and the nation,” Evers said. “On behalf of all Wisconsinites, I want you to know we are proud of you. You are the very best that the state has to offer, you’re well trained and, more importantly, you embody the values inherent in a Midwestern upbringing — selflessness, hard work and dedication. We pledge our unwavering support to you and your families while you are deployed and when you return safely to Wisconsin next year.”
Evers also pledged support to the families of the deploying Soldiers.
This marks the first deployment for Tadish, who has served in the Wisconsin Army National Guard for 11 years.
“I have mixed emotions, having two kids and a wife at home and being gone,” Tadisch admitted. “But I’ve been in the military long enough — it’s about time that I go over there.”
Spc. Grant Wiley, a Minneapolis resident assigned to the 829th Engineer Company, is also going on his first overseas deployment after five years in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m pretty excited — I think it should be a good experience. A tough experience, but I think a positive one.”
Wiley is trained as a heavy equipment operator and a plumber. While the exact location and assignment for the 829th has not been determined yet, he was not concerned.
“I know who I’m going with,” he said, “so I think that will be enough.”
The 829th Engineer Company will complete mobilization training at Fort Bliss, Texas over the next few weeks before deploying to the Middle East.