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Pennsylvania Soldiers return from Afghan deployment

January 27, 2013

By Capt. Maryjane Falefa Porter, 412th TEC Public Affairs

FORT BLISS, Texas - More than 120 Soldiers with 420th Eng. Co., 458th Eng. Bn., 411th Eng. Bde., 412th Theater Engineer Command, returned home Friday after 11 months of deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Maj. Gen. William M. Buckler, Jr., commanding general of 412th TEC, along with Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Hatchell, interim TEC CSM and 926th Eng. Bde. CSM, Col. John Seeley, provisional commander of 411th Eng. Bde., and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Oddo, interim 411th CSM, welcomed the Soldiers as they deplaned and thanked them for their service and sacrifice and for a job well done.

The 420th Eng. Co., based out of Indiana, Pa., was awarded with 110 Combat Action Badges, four Combat Medical Badges, 13 Purple Hearts, 28 Bronze Stars, one Bronze Star with Valor, eight Army Commendation Medals with Valor and 112 Army Commendation Medals.

"Our Soldiers displayed exceptionally meritorious conduct while executing sustained route clearance operations in Regional Command-North," said Capt. John Forte, commander of 420th Eng. Co.

The unit completed more than 480 engineer clearance operations over a 16,000 square kilometer area, cleared over 45,000 km of MSRs, ASRs and tertiary routes and access trails, served alongside three US Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Companies, and conducted extensive partnership with Afghan National Army Route Clearance, Sapper Engineer, and Infantry platoons.

Throughout their deployment, Forte and his team supported seven coalition Provincial Reconstruction Teams with clearance and security operations. The PRTs consisted of German, Swedish, Dutch, Finish and Norwegian units.

They also trained and validated three Afghan National Army Route Clearance Companies through the execution of over 90 partnered missions.

"This marked an important milestone; the first time in Operation Enduring Freedom that ANA Engineers conducted independent route clearance missions in RC-North," said Forte.

"Through all these responsibilities, challenging missions, and operating throughout the entire RC-North area of operations, the 420th Engineer Company was one of the most active, highly utilized and successful clearance companies in Afghanistan during our deployment tour," said the company commander.

I am extremely proud of our Soldiers for all that they have accomplished. I'm proud to be their commander and truly honored for the opportunity to serve with them and to be a member of this unit, said Forte.

The 420th will spend approximately two weeks to complete out-processing procedures here before heading home to Pennsylvania to be with their families.

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