Wisconsinites Unite for 829th Soldier Sendoff Ceremony

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: October 19, 2019 06:58 PM

Hundreds gathered in Spooner for the special sendoff of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 829th Engineer Company Saturday.


154 soldiers from the 829th are prepared to serve their country with pride and dignity, and what better way to honor that, than with a memorable sendoff.

Families and state officials were in attendance at Spooner High School as they wished the troops safe travels for their yearlong mission.

“It was fantastic, I got to see the general and it was great to have all these people here supporting us,” said Spc. Stephen Hitchcock of Ashland.

State and military leaders thanked the soldiers for their sacrifice and commitment.

“With our extensive construction background and civilian experience, I’m fully confident we will go above and beyond in any active duty component within the United States Army,” said 1st Sgt. Sean Ringer.

The 829th Engineer Company will deploy to the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East as a highly versatile construction element in support of the 113th Engineer Battalion from Indiana.

"To have you here today to send them off with this support, it will carry them all the way to their deployment,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar.

“I am so grateful to you and your families for your service to Wisconsin and the nation,” said Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. “We are proud of you, you are the best our state has to offer.”

Evers presented them with the Wisconsin flag to take with them on their mission, so they can embrace their Wisconsinite pride wherever they go.

One Ashland family in particular has the unique opportunity to serve together.

“I’m deploying with two of my other brothers. My little brother and I growing up, we were best friends so I also get to go on the plane with him and I’m excited about that,” said Spc. Dan Hitchcock.

The younger Hitchcock brothers Dan and Stephen are heading overseas for the first time, they have their older brother Jonathan joining them, who’s deploying for the second time. Their other brother, Nate, will wait for them back home this time. Nate and Jonathan deployed together in 2014.

I’m kind of sad that I’m not going to see them but I’m also really excited for them because I remember the feeling I had when I left,” said Nate Hitchcock, an engineer officer.

Heartfelt goodbyes were exchanged between hundreds of families and soldiers of the 829th, as they prepare for deployment in the Middle East.

“I feel proud, very emotional, but he'll do fine,” said Lisa Braun, a mom who is sending off her son, Spc. Raymond Braun, for the first time.

Families were spending their final moments together with their soldiers. Moments that truly matter and give the soldiers the strength they need for their journey.

“It was hard initially when he told us what he wanted to do but we supported him 100 percent and it’s exciting to see him at this point, it really is,” said William Braun, his son, Raymond, is being deployed for the first time.

“My entire family is here and they're very supportive. Without them, I wouldn't be able to do what we do,” said Sgt. Jessica Mcinnis of Minocqua.


Alejandra Palacios

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