—Dozens of family and friends gathered with Soldiers of the 101st Engineer Battalion, from Methuen and Whitinsville, Mass., for a deployment ceremony in front of the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Naval Yard, June 13, 2009.
The 101st Engineer Battalion will deploy for approximately one year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing construction, building surveys, road repair and maintenance and sanitation services to the Baghdad area.
The ceremony began with an invocation by the 101st Engineer Battalion Chaplain Paul Barnett, followed by the playing of the National Anthem. Two Black Hawk helicopters from the 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation flew over a cheering crowd of family, friends and the silent Soldiers of the 101st Engineer Battalion.
Following the fly-over, Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, presented the Blue Star Banner to the mothers of the mobilized Soldiers of the 101st Engineer Battalion.
Governor Deval L. Patrick attended the ceremony and gave a speech commemorating the battalion’s historic past with the USS Constitution.
When the Civil War began in 1861, the 101st Engineer Battalion was the 8th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, known as the “Minutemen.” When the USS Constitution was in danger of being captured from its port in Annapolis, Md., by the Confederates, the regiment sent two companies to protect the vessel until it could sail safely to New York. As the Soldiers of the 101st prepared to deploy to Iraq, Governor Patrick told them to take inspiration from the vessel’s past and its protectors’ refusal to yield. He added that the service, sacrifice and excellence of the 101st Engineer Battalion Soldiers will be remembered here and at home. “These Soldiers depart with the love of this Commonwealth,” said Patrick.