The 42nd Clearance Company, a 21st Theater Sustainment Command unit, was recently recognized as the Army’s top engineer unit.
During a May 16 ceremony, Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, U.S. Army chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, presented the company with the Itschner Award for the unit’s accomplishments in Afghanistan. Prior to the ceremony, Bostick met with Maj. Gen. Aundre Piggee, 21st TSC commander, at the command’s Kaiserslautern headquarters on Panzer Kaserne.
“It really recognizes not only the leaders but the entire team. The Soldiers in that unit, the family members in that unit and their higher headquarters all worked together as a team, so everybody is really proud of them,” Bostick said.
Named in honor of Lt. Gen. Emerson C. Itschner, the award is presented annually to the active component’s most outstanding engineer company. Since 2010, the Bamberg-based unit served as U.S. Army Europe’s sole route clearance unit. Their mission is to find and destroy roadside bombs and other explosive hazards to allow friendly forces free access to roads to conduct their missions.
The unit supported the 172nd Infantry Brigade and German troops during pre-deployment training. In early 2012, the unit deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, working in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province alongside three brigades, two U.S. and one Polish.
“The Sappers of the 42nd Clearance Company had the upper hand in that they had worked with NATO’s partners during their train up in Germany and utilized this experience to help establish a close relationship with each of the two (Polish) battalions,” said 1st Lt. David Brink, the executive officer for the 42nd Clearance Company.
By deployment’s end, the unit conducted more than 500 missions both in vehicles and on foot, clearing more than 30,000 kilometers of roads and finding and disabling more than 150 explosive hazards. The 42nd also mentored Afghan National Army forces on route-clearance, unit logistics and maintenance programs.
Throughout the deployment, the Soldiers distinguished themselves not only as a unit, but as individuals as well. Soldiers from the 42nd earned a MacArthur Leadership Award, six Bronze Star medals with V devices for valor and numerous other awards at the regional command level and below.
The unit is now preparing to move to Fort Knox, Ky., as part of USAREUR’s transformation.