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Institute of Land Warfare >> Dispatches from the Front >> 478th returns from Iraq – again Email this... Email    Print this Print

478th returns from Iraq – again

Story by Spc. Beth Gorenc, CAJMTC PAO

Photo by Sgt. Jesse Tucker

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. During the initial invasion of Iraq, the 478th Engineer Battalion spent 33 days of heavy combat clearing minefields, building robust bridges and destroying Iraqi Army bunkers for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force – all which earned them the Presidential Unit Citation.

Spc. James Gibson, buffalo arm operator for the 841st Engineer Company, 3rd Platoon and Spc. Smith, buffalo driver for the 841st Engineer Company, 3rd Platoon handed out candy to local children Feb. 7, at Fallujah, Iraq while operating under the marines during their tour. 841st was attached to the 478th Engineer Battalion while they removed improvised explosive devices throughout Iraq.

Army Reserve Soldiers from the Fort Thomas, Ky-based 478th Combat Engineer Battalion once again proved they were more than up to the challenge during their second tour in support of ongoing combat operations in Iraq.

For the past year, the battalion of more than 350 Soldiers spent every day fighting a different kind of enemy – the improvised explosive device. IEDs are currently the predominate method of choice for terrorist attempting to push coalition forces out of Iraq.

Unfortunately for those terrorists, the battalion and a subordinate unit, 841st Engineer Company (Combat)(Wheeled), a Reserve unit from Miami, completed more than 1,800 IED-hunting missions with their Marine and Air Force counterparts to make Iraq a safer place for both Iraqis and coalition forces.

“Our mission was to find and destroy IEDs before they could have the chance to destroy people,” said Sgt. Jesse Tucker, a squad leader in the 841st. “We worked through some hellacious weather to prevent [terrorists] from planting more IEDs. It was hard work, but it was more than worth it.”

With their second tour under their belts, both units were excited to return to Camp Atterbury and eventually back to their families and friends.

“I’m happy to be returning home to my family,” said Chief Warrant Officer Lynn Davis, engineer equipment technician for the 478th Engineer Battalion. “But I’m also happy I went on the deployment. It was a great learning experience.”

Other soldiers shared Davis’s sentiment of the learning experiences gained from the tour.

Spc. Keith Baker, the unit armor for the 478th said that he learned more about his job on the recent deployment than he thought possible.

Along with learning experiences, Soldiers were also able to walk away from the deployment knowing that they made a difference.

According to Staff Sgt. Dale Race, a squad leader in the 841st, one platoon alone traveled between 10,000 and 12,000 kilometers while completing missions.

“I’m happy we were able to go over there and eliminate some of the threat,” added Spc. Patrick Ryder, driver for the 841st Engineer Company. “My son is scheduled to deploy soon and I feel better about him going over there now after all of the work that we did to make Iraq a safer place.”