JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers of the 14th Engineer Battalion, a component unit of the 555th Engineer Brigade, were recognized for their dangerous work during a year-long deployment to Afghanistan in 2011-2012 in a ceremony at Able Field Jan. 30.
During the ceremony, representatives from the Seattle post of the Society of American Military Engineers SAME, a nonprofit organization made up of military and civilian engineers, awarded the 14th Engineer Battalion the SAME Seattle Merit Award.
“We were very impressed with the work the 14th did - over 200,000 kilometers of roadways cleared of IEDs,” said Coast Guard Capt. John Hickey, president of SAME’s Seattle post. “The sheer number of IEDs they identified and cleared to protect the troops using those roads was a significant accomplishment that we felt deserved recognition.”
When a unit receives the Merit Award, they are allowed to choose their own reward. The 14th elected to use the award to help soldiers of the brigade.
For the award, SAME made a $1,000 donation to the 555th Brigade’s Able Soldier and Family Fund.
The Able Soldier and Family Fund was created to provide financial support for the soldiers and families of the 555th during deployments to combat zones.
“We primarily support families of those who were killed or wounded in action, as well as families within the brigade in need of financial assistance,” said retired Command Sgt. Major Dennis Bowers, chairperson of the Able Fund.
“It’s an organization some of our veterans put together so our soldiers wouldn’t have to get help somewhere else,” said 14th Battalion Command Sgt. Major Douglass Padgett. “It’s a great organization that really helps our soldiers out. One thing that sticks out in my mind is when we had a soldier involved in a very serious incident where he had to have part of his arm amputated. When he came home, his family was having some financial problems, but the Able Fund went out and bought them a washer and dryer. It was a huge help to that young soldier.”
The Able Fund gives blankets to soldiers injured in combat, provides transportation to family members having trouble getting around due to a soldier’s injuries, and provides flowers for soldier’s memorial services, as well as the memorial box and a flag for the families of those killed in action.
“We had another soldier involved in a very serious incident and he ended up a double amputee. Able Fund sent a lot of things to him, including the brigade blanket all the soldiers love,” Padgett said. “I still remember the look on his face when I had the opportunity to give that blanket to him.”
“This donation will go a long way,” Bowers said. “$1,000 can buy a lot of blankets.”