(Army Release) – About 18 Army Reserve soldiers who served with the 321st Engineer when Ithe unit deployed to Iraq in 2006, and returned in September 2007 will receive Welcome Home Warrior Citizen awards Saturday, March 2 at 10 a.m. Allen Reserve Center, Fort Lewis, Wash.
The 321st Eng. Bn.’s mission in Iraq was route clearance in Al Anbar province, to include Ar Ramadi and Ar Fallujah. The 321st Eng. Bn. was part of Task Force Pathfinder, commanded by the 321st’s Colonel Michael Hoxie. The unit returned to the United States with 102 Purple Heart recipients, and 104 Bronze Star recipients. Sixteen of the Bronze Stars were for valor. The unit cleared more than 1,000 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), cleared approximately 100,000 kilometers of roadway and managed the construction of four combat bridges. The insurgency attempted to destroy several highway bridges and the construction of these combat bridges provided coalition forces and local Iraqis the uninterrupted use of road networks. The local economy was restarted when the insurgents were denied safe haven in and around the cities. As Task Force Pathfinder cleared the way for coalition forces to move in and set up neighborhood joint security stations local Iraqi police gained the trust of citizens. The soldiers who cleared the IEDs worked in the mine-removal vehicles RG-31s, Huskys, Buffalos and Cougars. The Task Force lost six soldiers during its deployment: one from Washington, three from Idaho, one from Nevada, one from Wisconsin. Many others returned with injuries resulting from IED blasts, sniper attacks, and various other encounters with the enemy. Through the tireless efforts of the Soldiers of the 321st EN BN the citizens of Ramadi, Fallujah, and other cities in west Iraq enjoyed a dramatic increase in community security and their quality of life.
The Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award was developed to provide an appropriate ceremony in which to thank each soldier who participated in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the ceremony, each soldier will be presented an encased American flag, a specially designed commemorative coin, a lapel pin set for the soldier and spouse, and a “Welcome Home Warrior-Citizen” flag. The award was established in December 2004 by Lt. Gen. James Helmly, Chief, Army Reserve.