Green Bay Reserve Unit Activated For Possible Deployment to Bosnia

Green Bay to Bosnia LogoMembers of the 432nd Army Reserve Unit in Green Bay finally got the news Thursday they knew was coming — they are being activated for possible deployment to Bosnia.

After the military notified the unit several weeks ago of the possibility it would go to Bosnia, soldiers have wondered whether they would ship out before the holidays. The 80 soldiers from Wisconsin will spend New Year’s with their families before heading to Fort Bragg, N.C., on Jan. 5.

“It’s been kind of a roller-coaster ride. It wasn’t a question of if, but when, and we found out today,” Capt. Jeff Ponkratz.

“In a way, I think it actually made the holiday better with this looming over out heads. In my case, I definitely appreciated it more,” said Ponkratz, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Horace Mann Middle School in Neenah.

Although not officially told it would go to Europe in support of operations in Bosnia, the 432nd was notified it would be away for up to nine months, Ponkratz said.

The civil affairs unit will undergo training at Fort Bragg for five to 10 days. Training will include instruction on rules of engagement, briefings on the situation in Bosnia and cold-weather training as well as “cultural dos and don’ts, like don’t put your foot toward a Muslim because they’ll get offended (and) don’t use your left hand,” Ponkratz said.

The unit includes engineers, attorneys, physicians, veterinarians and officers fluent in foreign languages and operates much like emergency government, serving as a link between civilians and military.

On Thursday, the unit was busy loading Humvees with sophisticated computers that will allow them e-mail access as well as cold-weather gear, night vision goggles and M-16s for all soldiers and 9mm pistols for the unit’s team leaders.

“When we got the mobile order this morning, there was a real energy,” said Ponkratz, who earned a Bronze Star in the Persian Gulf War and taught at Horning Middle School in Waukesha until moving to Neenah this year.


By Meg Jones
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
December 29. 1995

Green Bay Reserve Unit May Ship to Bosnia Green Bay Reserve Unit Activated For Possible Deployment to Bosnia 432nd Prepares for Duty