WINCHESTER, Va. – Two local news anchors/reporters from ABC affiliate TV3 Winchester visited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deployment Center to learn about changes in operations and talk with deployees.
The report aired Feb. 21; see the complete report.
The reporters, Katrina Bush and Lauren McKay, started by taping an interview with Deployment Center Manager Keith Frye.
Bush asked him about any change in operations since the shift in U.S. focus overseas from Iraq to Afghanistan.
"The main Deployment Center operations have been effected in that most of our deployees now are headed to Afghanistan," Frye said. "We don't have the big mix of Iraq and Afghanistan that we've had for the past few years. We still send people to Iraq because the Middle East District has an area office there, but the numbers going to Iraq are a fraction of what they were. Even so, the overall volume of deployees processed through here has remained fairly consistent.
"We also process people for civil and natural disasters including the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan," he said. "Additionally, we have support agreements with 25 other government agencies to process their personnel, if and when the need arises."
The reporters talked to Program Manager David Schmidt, who had just returned from a one-year tour in Iraq. Originally part of Jacksonville District, Schmidt will be headed back to Winchester as part of the Middle East District team.
Schmidt took time to discuss his deployment experiences with the reporters, despite being eager to get home to see his new granddaughter. "I have two sons in the Army and was able to meet them over there, which was great," he said.
Since 2003, Schmidt has deployed five times. "With more than 31 years service and grown boys, deployment is still hard."
Dan Kornblum and Seth Finn, both construction representatives headed to Afghanistan, were also interviewed by the TV3 team. A Soldier for 22 years, Kornblum was in Iraq from June 2009 to July 2010. After retiring from the Army, he is now deploying as a Corps of Engineers civilian. He has four children ranging from 16 to 4 years old and was just married in December.
Finn, a self-proclaimed "Corps baby" having grown up with a USACE-employed father, has deployed before with the Corps. He said he is very excited about this excellent opportunity to deploy again and considers it his chance to go do his part. "And the relationships that develop with fellow-deployees are amazing, forming life-long friendships," he said.
The Middle East District houses the facilities, supplies, personnel and training cadre responsible for equipping and preparing civilians to deploy for contingency operations throughout the world. The focus of the USACE Deployment Center remains on Afghanistan. Employees who volunteer to deploy spend their first week away from home at the Deployment Center in Winchester.