878th Engineer Battalion returns to Augusta from Afghanistan

 

Hours before the 878th Engineer Battalion returned from deployment in Afghanistan, Robin Lorenz quietly paced the floor of Augusta’s Army National Guard building on Milledge Road.

“To say I have butterflies would be a huge understatement,” Lorenz said. “I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas morning.”

It’s been an exhausting 10 months, said Lorenz, who leads the 878th Family Readiness Group.

Her husband, logistics noncommissioned Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lorenz, deployed for Afghanistan on Feb. 4 and was overseas until returning home at 11:45 p.m. Saturday.

“You see these bags,” Robin Lorenz said with a laugh, while pointing beneath her eyes. “It’s been a hard 10 months without him. This was Michael’s second deployment, but his first with kids. Killian, my middle son, is such a daddy’s boy. I mean such a daddy’s boy. Words can’t describe how happy we are to have him home.”

As part of the 878th Battalion, Michael Lorenz served as one of 170 citizen soldiers who spent the majority of 2013 performing combat operations in southern Afghanistan.

During their time in the field, soldiers with the 878th used their engineering expertise to protect coalition forces and Afghan civilians by conducting route clearance operations designed to locate and disarm potential explosive devices.

“It’s an extremely dangerous mission,” said Lt. Col. Eduardo Granados, the battalion commander. “But most importantly, we brought everybody back. We grew together as a collective unit, and not only that, but each individual contributed in a special way that made this a championship team. We had the perfect season.”

Michael Lorenz agreed.

“While in Afghanistan, we spent a lot of time doing route clearances in some pretty dangerous areas. I’m just happy to be home with my family. We were supposed to stay in Afghanistan until late December, but thankfully they moved up our arrival date. It’s extremely tough being away for this long, and I couldn’t be happier to be back in Augusta.”

For the families of the 878th Battalion, the past 10 months also brought struggles at home.

“There were a lot of sleepless nights,” Robin Lorenz said. “Fortunately, I have a great faith community, as well as everyone in the Family Readiness Group. I can’t describe how amazing it is to be able to share similar stories within the FRG. It’s truly an honor to be able to help each other while our loved ones are away.”

Adding to the excitement of her
husband’s return, as the clock struck midnight inside the Army National Guard building, Nov. 24 marked Robin’s 35th birthday.

“Before Michael left Afghanistan, he kept asking what I wanted for my birthday,” she said. “But all I want is him. Having him home is the greatest gift I could ever ask for.”

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