Marseilles National Guard battalion deployed to Fort Bliss, then Kuwait

Bravo Company 766 standing in formation during the deployment ceremony held in Coal City on Thursday.

Coal City High School’s gymnasium was the home of a ceremony commemorating the Bravo Company 766th Brigade Engineer Battalion and its deployment first to Fort Bliss in Texas and then to Kuwait.

The guardsmen who make up Bravo Company 766 were trained at the Marseilles Training Area, and there are about 550 in total from units based in Chicago, Bartonville, Marseilles, Elgin and Kankakee. National Guard leadership and state Sen. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, saw off the 99 guardsmen being deployed.

“Today is about family,” Bennett said. “It’s about community. Today’s about our states and about the great country that we love and are a part of. There’s a lot of energy in this room right now. I was outside coming in, and the amount of people here and the flags and firetrucks and the energy and support – folks, I have goosebumps up and down my arms right now.”

Family and friends hold flags while a large one blows in the wind during the deployment ceremony held in Coal City on Thursday for Bravo Company 766.

Many families and friends of the deploying guardsmen attended, packing the gymnasium, and even more people stood outside with American flags, lining the sidewalks on the way inside.

Bennett thanked those deploying for their vision, commitment, knowledge and understanding that freedom isn’t free.

Brigadier Gen. Justin Osberg, the director of the Illinois National Guard joint staff, said the mobilization ceremony reflects many months of hard work, planning and training conducted to prepare to support and defend freedom overseas.

“I often speak of the three-legged stool,” Osberg said. “Our families and friends represent one leg of the stool and the community itself. The second leg of the stool is our National Guard, the work we do as a soldier. The third is our employers. All three legs require us to do our job as national guardsmen to be successful in our military career, and the constant juggling of a homeland mission, national defense, mission overseas and civilian career.”

Osberg said the guardsmen have the strength and competence needed to thrive in their mission, and he knows they will build lifelong bonds with their fellow soldiers.

“Embrace it,” Osberg said. “And above all, keep each other safe.”

Bagpipe and Drums of the Emerald Society of the Chicago Police Department play during the deployment ceremony held in Coal City on Thursday for Bravo Company 766.

Company Cmdr. Capt. Bryce Sesemenn said when it came time to take up a command position, there’s only one company he’d want command of: the 766 Bravo.

“As you look at the soldiers, you see your brothers or father, husband or wife, son or daughters, brothers or sisters – you see loved ones, you see your family,” Sesemenn said. “The pride that fills your heart is shared with me. These men and women have become my second family.”

Sesemenn said the hard work is the reason the organization is so successful, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The unit’s primary mission will be securing and protecting the U.S. and its allies, and it includes training with allies in Kuwait.

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Grundy County and the City of Morris, Coal City, Minooka, and more for the Morris Herald-News