CORVALLIS, Ore. – Almost seven years after an intense firefight during the Battle of Fallujah, in Iraq, 30 soldiers of the Oregon Army National Guard were recognized with the Presidential Unit Citation, during a ceremony at the Corvallis Armory, Jan. 8.
Oregon Army National Guard soldiers of 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, received the Presidential Unit Citation—one of the highest awards given to a military unit—for their heroic actions during the Battle of Fallujah, Nov. 3 to Nov. 24, 2004.
The soldiers were attached to the U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, with guidance from the 1st Regimental Combat Team, 1st Marine Division at the time. The soldiers from 2nd Platoon were selected to lead the way into the Jolan District of Northwest Fallujah during some of the heaviest fighting of the Iraq war.
Oregon Attorney General and former active duty Marine, John Kroger, also spoke at the event. He said he was impressed that a National Guard unit led the way with such competence and ability.
Bravo Company’s participation in the battle was also documented in one chapter of John Bruning’s book, The Devil’s Sandbox. The book chronicled the 2-162 IN BN’s participation in the Iraq War.
Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon, said he was never more proud to be a member of the Oregon Army National Guard, as he spoke to a large audience of soldiers, family, friends and the media.
“These are your hometown heroes,” Rees said. “When our founding fathers wrote the Constitution and talked about defense of this nation, this is what they were talking about.”
Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader issued a statement into Congressional record, which was also read at the ceremony. The statement said, “The unit’s rapid penetration deep into the city overwhelmed enemy positions, leading the way for further exploitation by the Marines.”
The company carries a proud tradition, and as a unit, still have the best riflemen in the Army, said Sgt. Keith Dow.
“Good leadership is what we had and still have,” said Dow, who is still a member of 2nd Platoon. “New soldiers are being taught they need to live up to a standard that has been set.”
The 30 soldiers who were honored in the ceremony will be allowed to wear the award for the rest of their life. Other members of the platoon can wear the award only while serving as a member of the unit.
Cadet Matthew Zedwick, a former Staff Sgt. in 2nd Platoon, attributed the award to brotherhood and camaraderie. He said the award is recognition for a very deserving group.
“The Presidential Unit Citation is huge and this platoon is so deserving of the award,” Zedwick said. “I will never find a group with that kind of discipline. We sacrificed and it feels good to be honored.”
Schrader said nearly 9,000 citizen soldiers have served in combat and counter-terrorism operations since Sept. 11, 2001. He added that every one of them have repeatedly demonstrated their dedication to their country.
The Presidential Unit Citation shows the men from 2nd Platoon not only served, but did so to the highest military standard, he said.