HEIDELBERG, Germany — Three of the Army’s five top engineer awards for 2009 were presented to U.S. Army Europe units and soldiers in a ceremony at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., April 21.
Bravo Company, 9th Engineer Battalion, 172nd Infantry Brigade, from Schweinfurt, Germany, was selected as the 2009 Itschner Award winner. The Itschner Award is named in honor of Army Lt. Gen. Emerson C. Itschner. It is presented annually to the one active and one reserve component engineer company judged to be the Army’s best during the award year.
“Bravo Company, 9th Engineers is the best sapper company I’ve seen in my 20 years of service,” said Army Lt. Col. Louis Rago, commander of Task Force 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor, which the 9th Engineers supported during their recent deployment to Iraq.
Calling the company “the tip of spear” for the task force, Rago said his soldiers could not have done their jobs if the engineers had not faced the danger of clearing routes in South Balad Ruz for them.
Army 1st Lt. Brent J. Johnson of the 500th Engineer Company, 15th Engineer Battalion, was selected as the Army’s outstanding engineer platoon leader for 2009. That award is presented each year to the one active and one reserve component lieutenant engineer platoon leader judged to have made the most outstanding contributions to military engineering during the award year as a result of their leadership and technical skills. Johnson earned the award for leading four construction projects that saved the Schweinfurt and Bamberg communities $185,281. Those projects included creating a habitat for frogs and tadpoles in the Schweinfurt training area; improving local improvised explosive device training areas in Schweinfurt and Bamberg; and building a paved parking lot in Bamberg.
“I was the first platoon leader of the ‘Beat It Down’ platoon, which gave me the chance to set the tone and create a legacy that will continue to grow,” Johnson said, adding that it was an emotional day when he passed the platoon along to another leader in September 2009.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Ricardo Ranger of Baumholder, Germany’s Charlie Company, 40th Engineer Battalion, was selected as the 2009 Sturgis Medal winner. Named in honor of Army Lt. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis, a former Army Chief of Engineers, the medal is awarded annually to one engineer noncommissioned officer judged to have made outstanding contributions to military engineering as a result of leadership and technical skills. Last year’s Sturgis was also presented to a U.S. Army Europe engineer.
All of these nominees for this year’s awards represented their major commands with “the highest professionalism and decdication to the Engineer Corps’ vision, and deserve our highest praise,” said Army Brig. Gen. Bryan G. Watson, commandant of the Army’s Engineer School.