Saturday, January 19, 2008
3rd HBCT Engineers In The Running For Two Dept. Of The Army Awards
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Their job is one of the most dangerous in the Army. They call themselves “bomb hunters”, and that’s exactly what they do. Other Soldiers rely on them to keep the roads safe for combat patrols throughout the Mada’in Qada, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s area of operation.
Soldiers of Company E, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Division, one of the 3rd HBCT’s engineering companies, are in the running for two prestigious engineering awards, the Sturgis and the Itschner. Leaders of the 3rd HBCT nominated Company E and the company’s senior noncommissioned officer for the awards.
The Sturgis Award, named in honor of Lt. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis, a former Chief of Engineers, is awarded annually to engineer noncommissioned officers, sergeant through sergeant first class, in each Army component (active, reserve, and National Guard), selected in recognition of outstanding contributions to military engineering by demonstrated technical and leadership ability for the award year.
This year, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Gan, from Crawford, Mich., senior noncommissioned officer in charge of Company E, was nominated for the award. “It’s an honor,” Gan said. “It’s tough to win.”
The Itschner award, named in honor of Lt. Gen. Emerson C. Itschner, is presented annually to the engineer company in each Army component selected as most outstanding in their respective component for the award year. Capt. Rick Barnes, from Chelsea, Mich., commander of Company E, said that he is very pleased with his company.
“It’s been a phenomenal year for the company,” Barnes said. “Very few units do almost everything well. The Soldiers are good at what they do and the success rate is unbelievable.”
The company’s job is dangerous and their duties range from route clearance to demolition. Some jobs require them to send individual Soldiers with different companies to fulfill their engineering needs. But most of the time, they are together, out on the roads, searching for explosive devices. “They spend a lot of time together,” Barnes said. “They work hard. Their morale is high for having one the most dangerous jobs in theater.” Despite the dangers involved in their job, Barnes takes pride that Company E has exceeded their 2007-2008 reenlistment goals.
Gan said a lot of the success of the team is due to how well-rounded the Soldiers are.
“We try to mix the jobs up,” he said. “We want to make sure almost every Soldier is able to do every job.” Barnes submitted packets on Gan and Company E, that included their deployment accomplishments. The packets were chosen by the 3rd Infantry Division to forward to Multi-National Division - Corps. If passed all the way through the division and corps, they will be sent to Fort Leonard Wood for the final evaluation.
Even if the company does not win the final evaluation, Barnes describes it as a great experience and said the packet will serve as a historical document of the company’s achievements for the deployment. “If nothing else, this will serve as a “yearbook” for the Soldiers,” he said. “It’s recognition for the outstanding job they have done this past year.”
The divisional nomination for both Gan and Company E comes as no surprise for Capt Nancy Preston, from El Paso, Texas, 3rd HBCT engineer. “Throughout the area of operation, they have done the most with the least amount of assets in such a large area,” she said. “Of the combined improvised explosive device finds for the entire brigade, this one company has found over 40 percent of them.”
Company E, 1-15th Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div., from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.
Labels: Operation Iraqi Freedom 5