An Iowa National Guard Unit that served in Afghanistan was recently honored by the Department of Defense with the “Citizen Patriot Unit Award.”
Iowa Guard spokesman, Colonel Greg Hapgood, says the award went to members of the 34th Infantry Division known as the “Red Bulls.”
“The award is given annually to the top individual and the top unit per the D.O.D.’s citizen patriot criteria. This particular unit, the Second Brigade Combat Team, had a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. The unit performed remarkably well, they had some very,very difficult missions,” Hapgood says.
The deployment was the largest by the Iowa National Guard since World War Two, and four members did not return. Hapgood says four soldiers were killed during the deployment, Sergeant Brent M. Maher (Honey Creek), Specialist Donald Nichols (Shell Rock), Staff Sergeant James Justice (Grimes), and Sergeant. First Class Terry Pasker (Cedar Rapids).
Hapgood says the award not only recognized the soldiers, but was also based on the support they received from home while on deployment.
“Certainly the Second Brigade Combat team has performed extremely well for whatever has been asked of them. But they can’t do what they do without the support of their loved ones, without the support of the community and their employers as well. Truly it’s a team effort…really there are so many hands on this award that made this happen,” Hapgood says.
The unit was deployed in July of 2010 and began coming home in July of 2011.