News: Oregon National Guard's 2-218 Field Artillery Battalion honored with Meritorious Unit Citation
By Staff Sgt. Jalayna Lagomarsino
41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
YAKIMA, Wash. – The Oregon Army National Guard’s 2-218 Field Artillery Battalion, 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation, July 18, at Yakima Training Center, Yakima, Wash., in recognition of their extensive sustainment and security operations conducted over a 150,000 square-mile area of operations during the unit’s July 2009 – April 2010 combat deployment to Al Asad Air Force Base, Iraq.
According to the award citation derived from the unit's deployment records, the 2-218 Field Artillery escorted more than 13,000 trucks over two million miles in support of a multi-region route security and vehicle escort plan. These efforts were a vital part of the larger logistical sustainment effort to get fuel, supplies, and equipment to coalition forces and the Iraqi people during the phased draw-down of U.S. Forces in Iraq.
During the ceremony, the commander of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Col. William J. Edwards, commented on what he termed the “intangible” achievement of the 2-218 Field Artillery’s 2009 combat deployment, where the Oregon Army National Guard artillery entity was tasked to perform a mission in a combat zone, but told to “leave the Howitzers at home.”
“This battalion was presented a non-standard mission for an artillery unit. The Soldiers of the 2-218 adapted to this mission in a manner that maintained its artillery roots and performed superbly,” Edwards said.
Sgt. Keith Lepak, of Alpha Battery, 2-218 FA, remembers how he felt when he got the word of his unit's upcoming mission.
“It was bittersweet,” Lepak said. “We love artillery but we are always ready to do whatever mission is needed.”
After the streamer was affixed to the battalion’s colors, battalion commander, Lt. Col. Stephen Schmidt, told his Soldiers how proud he was to add the award to the unit’s guidon and encouraged them to continue focusing on traditional artillery.
The 2-218 FA’s July 18 ceremony was the second of seven recognition ceremonies for units of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oregon Army National Guard, that have received the Meritorious Unit Citation. Ceremonies have been conducted for the 1-82 Cavalry Regiment, the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 1-186 Infantry Battalion, and the 141 Brigade Support Battalion. The 41 Special Troops Battalion ceremony will be conducted in August, and the 2-162 Infantry Battalion ceremony is scheduled to take place in November.
The Meritorious Unit Citation is awarded to units for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of duties for at least six continuous months during a period of military operations against an armed enemy. While service in a combat zone is not required, the service must be directly related to the combat effort.