Arkansas Army National Guard soldiers in Ozark received the Meritorious Unit Commendation Award on Sunday for their service during the most deadly phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Members of Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Fires Brigade received the commendation medal during a 1 p.m. ceremony at the Ozark National Guard Readiness Center, 1907 W. Commercial St., in Ozark.
"Whether responding to their fellow Arkansans during times of disaster or fighting our nation’s wars, the soldiers of Charlie Battery and throughout the 142nd Fires Brigade are among the best who ever ever served," Col. Troy Galloway said during the ceremony. "Today’s recognition is a testament to their warrior ethos and willingness to answer the call."
Around 40 to 50 family members and friends of the soldiers attended the ceremony, according to Maj. Matt Snead, public affairs officer for the Guard.
Members of Charlie Battery were commended for their service during their deployment to Iraq from February 2007 to February 2008.
Charlie Battery, which was comprised of approximately 152 Guard members during the 2007 Iraq deployment, was stationed at Contingency Operation Base (COB) Adder in Tallil, Iraq. Their mission was to provide convoy security.
"They escorted large supply trucks, (protecting) everything that was needed to keep the lifeline of the coalition forces in operating and performing their mission," Snead said.
The "deadliest" year of the Iraq war was 2007, according to Snead.
"It was July 2007 when the Surge occurred," he said. "Without the convoy security, the convoy would have been (extremely vulnerable). Protecting that supply lifeline was critical to the successful accomplishment of the mission in Iraq."
Snead said though he is from Little Rock, he considers soldiers such as the ones from Ozark to be the best in the state.
"You can’t find a better soldier than the soldiers from the River Valley and northwest Arkansas," he said. "The word that pops in my mind about them is dependable. You know they’re going to be there and get the job done no matter what obstacles they face."