News: Peekskill soldiers honored for Afghanistan service
Story by Eric Durr
PEEKSKILL, N.Y. - More than 110 New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 69th Infantry who deployed as part of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Task Force for duties in Afghanistan celebrate their service this weekend with a Freedom Salute Ceremony.
The rifle company was reflagged to serve with the 108th Infantry for deployment with the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. As part of the ceremony, the unit will case its colors for Company B, 2-108th Infantry and the Soldiers will return to their former assignment with Company C, 1-69th Infantry.
WHAT: Freedom Salute Awards Ceremony for the New York Army National Guard's Company B, 2-108th Infantry. The ceremony will include the presentation of a Purple Heart and two Bronze Star medals to Soldiers for service in Afghanistan.
WHO: About 110 members of Company B, 2-108th Infantry Battalion and their family members will be joined by National Guard leaders from the two infantry battalions and the headquarters of the 42nd Infantry Division.
Dgt. Kieran Murphy, will be presented the Purple Heart in recognition of wounds received when insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device in July 13, 2012. The attack occured during Operation Shrimps Net one of the major operations conducted by the 2nd Battaloon 108th Infantry. Two other Soldiers were wounded in the attack and were presented the Purple Heart in Afghanistan -- PFC Steven W. Onofrey and PFC Ruben D. Abreu.
WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Sunday January 13, 2013
WHERE: New York State Armory, 955 Washington St., Peekskill, N.Y.
Members of the media will have an opportunity to speak with Soldiers and families about their experiences during the deployment. For access to the facility, contact 2nd Lt. James Laurentius, 845-800-1732.
2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry (Task Force Iron) Background Information:
Task Force Iron is an infantry battalion task force from the New York Army National Guard comprised of units from across New York State. The Task Force mobilized in January 2012 and deployed to Afghanistan where it was responsible for enhancing the capability of the Afghan National Security Forces to secure Highway One in from Herat City to Nimroz Province in western Afghanistan.
The Task Force is commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph L. Biehler and Command Sgt Maj. David Oliver.
In 100 days of combat operations during the critical 2012 fighting season, Task Force Iron conducted 572 combat missions, including 20 air assault operations. It found and cleared dozens of IEDs and assisted the Afghan Army in establishing security along 200 miles of Highway One, one of the most strategic pieces of terrain in Afghanistan. In addition to these accomplishments, Task Force Iron enhanced the concept of Afghan-led inter-agency coordination centers, developed a targeting methodology for Security Force Assistance Teams and developed an innovative air assault counter IED team that neutralized the IED threat on Highway One.
The 500-soldier Task Force was led by the Utica-based 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment and augmented with an infantry company and dozens of individuals from the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, "The Fighting 69th," and a Ground Collection Platoon from the Syracuse-based 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Task Force Iron was the last major US ground maneuver force in RC-West and played an essential role in the transition of security from international forces to the Afghan Army and Police. As part of this transition, Task Force Iron closed several outposts and prepared thousands of pieces of equipment for its eventual retrograde from the country. The last Task Force Iron combat elements came off mission on Aug. 22, 2012. The majority of the soldiers returned to the United States in late September 2012.
During the ceremony Sgt. Kieran Murphy of Pearl River, N.Y. will receive the Purple Heart for wounds received in an IED attack in August 2012 and the company's leadership, Capt. Mathew Kilgore, from Cornwall, N.Y. and 1st Sgt. Michael O'Brien of Longbeach, N.Y. will receive the Bronze Star Medals for their service.
National Guard Freedom Salute Program:
In December 2003, National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., launched the Freedom Salute Campaign nationwide as a way to recognize members of the Army National Guard for service during Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn to thank their spouses, children and employers for the support they have shown to their soldier.
The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. Each eligible soldier will receive an encased American flag, a lapel insignia, a commemorative coin and a certificate of appreciation from the Army National Guard.
A soldier's spouse/significant other will receive a lapel pin while children will receive a Future Soldier Footlocker Kit that includes the Daring Eagle board game, Mission Command card game, and Army National Guard trading cards.