Guardsmen dedicate bench at Cape County Parks

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Guardsmen of the 1140th Engineer Battalion share memories of commanders listed on the bench dedicated and Cape County Parks in honor of the commanders, Soldiers and Veterans of the 1140th.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- Guardsmen of the 1140th Engineer Battalion, in Cape Girardeau, recently dedicated a bench at the Cape County Parks in honor of the commanders, Soldiers and Veterans of the 1140th.

"This is a great unit with a great heritage," retired Lt. Col. Brett Hanke told the Soldiers. "I hope you are as proud to be a part of this unit has I was."

Hanke, who was commander of the 1140th in 1997 to 1999, said he's truly honored to have been a member and a commander of such a proud and distinguished battalion.

The battalion's reputation in well known across the state, said Lt. Col. Ed Gargas, current commander of the 1140th.

"I've always said if you want to be in the Missouri National Guard, you want to be an engineer, and if you want to be an engineer, you want to be in the 1140th," said Gargas.

While the bench displays the names of the commanders, it's truly dedicated to the Soldiers who have made the 1140th what it is today and continue its proud heritage, said Gargas.

The Missouri National Guard has had a presence in Cape Girardeau since 1898. Throughout the years it was expanded, reorganized and reassigned several times, with deployments during World War I and World War II.

In 1969 the battalion was designated the 1140th Engineer Battalion. Currently the battalion consists of six units including, Headquarters Company in Cape Girardeau, Forward Support Company in Cape Girardeau, 1138th Sapper Engineer Company in Farmington and Fredericktown, 880th Haul Team in Perryville, 220th Horizontal Engineer Company in Festus and the 1438th Multi-Role Bridge Company in Macon and Kirksville.

The units have served on multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as supporting humanitarian missions to Panama, Honduras and Guatemala.

The 1140th Soldiers and heritage have attracted officers from across the state.

"When I was a lieutenant I always set my sight to have a 1140th command," said Col. Oberkirsch, who was commander between 2009 and 2011. "I'm blessed to have had the opportunity."

The Soldiers continue to uphold and push the standards, and many specifically join to be a part of the 1140th and rise to the challenge of being one of the best battalion's in the state, said Gargas.

"Every day I get to put on the uniform and serve with the best and most distinguished Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard," said Gargas.

The bench is now a part of the Veterans Memorial at Cape County Park under the American Flag.

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