The 322nd Engineer Company has been a member of the Decorah community since late in 1965. That 52-year history is coming to a close as the unit held a flag folding ceremony Sunday morning, marking the beginning of its move to the Las Vegas area.
The ceremony on Sunday was held at the PFC Lloyd C. Wohlford Jr. Army Reserve Center, which has been its home since November of 1977. The building is named after a Decorah resident who was winner of a Bronze Star Medal for valor in combat.
But members of the 322nd Engineer Company speak of the wider Decorah area as their home, too. 332nd's Douglas O'Brien told Sunday's crowd, "It's a joy to come here," and "Everybody here makes it feel like home."
The move to Nevada became necessary, however, because it's been difficult for the unit to find engineer soldiers to be combat effective. And in addition to having a bigger population than NE Iowa, the Las Vegas area has many training opportunities for the 322nd.
Over the years the unit has traveled to Germany, Guatemala and Panama for construction projects and humanitarian projects and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and to Afghanistan in 2011.
At Sunday's ceremony, Command Sgt. Major Daniel Maxwell said that although the 322nd is leaving, members will take their memories with them. The transfer of equipment and personnel out of Decorah and to Las Vegas and other places will begin now, but the weekend's activities allowed one last chance for all the current and former members of the 322nd to gather and share those memories.