• FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Col. James F. Reckard III., commander of the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, awards Spc. Taylor Merrit, a construction equipment repairer assigned to 509th Clearance Company, 5th Engineer Battalion with two Purple Hearts during a post-deployment ceremony in Specker Chapel Aug. 9, 2012. Meritt received two awards out of 153 awards approved for 509th Clearance Company Soldiers during their deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 2011 to 2012. (Photo by: U.S. Army Cpt. Jeffrey Nichols, 5th Engineer Battalion Unit Public Affairs Representative)

    Two time Purple Heart awardee poses with commander

    FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Col. James F. Reckard III., commander of the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, awards Spc. Taylor Merrit, a construction equipment repairer assigned to 509th Clearance Company, 5th Engineer Battalion with two Purple Hearts...

  • FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- 1st Lt. Landon Carl, 1st Lt. Jonathan Cross and Staff Sgt. Gregory Taylor, combat engineers assigned to 509th Clearance Company, 5th Engineer Battalion, receive Bronze Star medals Aug. 9 in Specker Chapel for their performance during a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The 509th Clearance Company is part of the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. (Photo by: U.S. Army Cpt. Jeffrey Nichols, 5th Engineer Battalion Unit Public Affairs Representative)

    Bronze Star medals awarded to Engineer Company

    FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- 1st Lt. Landon Carl, 1st Lt. Jonathan Cross and Staff Sgt. Gregory Taylor, combat engineers assigned to 509th Clearance Company, 5th Engineer Battalion, receive Bronze Star medals Aug. 9 in Specker Chapel for their performance...

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Soldiers of the 509th Clearance Company conducted a post-deployment award ceremony Aug. 9 at Specker Chapel to recognize individual "Renegades" for their extraordinary performance while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"The Soldiers in our company have earned this recognition by gladly grinding through the most dangerous mission in Afghanistan," said 1st Lt. Michael Poole, the company executive officer. "The fact that there are a lot less bad guys and [improvised explosive devices] on the roads of Afghanistan serves as proof of our Soldiers' training and effectiveness."

When the company redeployed from their yearlong combat tour in June, Soldiers of the unit had received a total of two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals, 14 Bronze Stars and 133 Army Commendation medals.

"It was an honor to be recognized for the long hours, lost sleep and dedication to accomplishment of our mission even after our convoy was struck by an IED," said Spc. Taylor Merrit, a construction equipment repairer assigned to 509th Clearance Company.

Merrit is one of more than 100 Soldiers in his unit that were directly attacked by insurgent forces.

His vehicle was struck by an IED on two separate occasions along the same route which led to the U.S. Forces Afghanistan deputy commanding general's decision to award Merrit with not one, but two Purple Heart medals.

The commander of 4th MEB pinned seven Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars and one Army Commendation medal with a Valor device during the ceremony.

"These Soldiers are real heroes," said Col. James Reckard, III., 4th MEB commander. "They aren't like the athletes that are earning Olympic gold medals right now in London; these Soldiers did what they did without expecting anything in return."

The "Renegade" company is currently reintegrating with fellow Soldiers and family members as they begin training for their next mission which is not yet determined.

The company is slated to deploy to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. next year.

Page last updated Tue August 28th, 2012 at 00:00