WASHIGTON D.C. -- Soldiers from the 367th Engineer Battalion, from St. Joseph, Minn., received a prestigious award for readiness October 3, 2016, from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), highlighting a busy year full of accomplishments.
Lt. Col. Jerry Criswell and Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Larson accepted the Walter T. Kerwin Jr. Readiness Award, during a breakfast ceremony at the annual meeting and exposition held by the AUSA, on behalf of the 367th Soldiers. This prestigious award, given to the top National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve battalions, recognizes the most outstanding in accomplishments and readiness.
"It is an amazing feeling to know that the personnel in the [367th] battalion take their commitment to the Army seriously." Said Criswell. "The soldiers come from all areas of life, but work for one common goal of being the best."
The 367th received the award for their participation in a myriad of operations and training exercises, and their overall readiness achievements during the year 2015. Most of all was their participation as the task force command, Task Force Northstar, for the operation Beyond the Horizon 2015 (BTH15).
BTH15 was a humanitarian and civic assistance exercise that took place in El Salvador. This undertaking, with the teamwork consisting of over 2,000 U.S., El Salvadorian, Brazilian, Chilean, Columbian, and Canadian armed forces and civilians, was responsible for the building of a new medical facility and five new schools, along with the completion of a multitude of medical and veterinary readiness exercises, which provided level one medical care to about 25,000 patients.
2015 was an extremely busy year for this engineer battalion. As well as commanding BTH15 they -- the battalion's forward support company along with the 492 Engineer Company -- were on ground building the schools and medical centers.
And, it wasn't just the battalion showing the world what 416th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) units can do. Companies and small detachments from this battalion were all over the world supporting the U.S. Army's goals and objectives.
"It was extremely stressful for all of us, but I had a good staff, and the attitude was let's just get it done." Said, then battalion commander of the 367th, Lt. Col. Joseph Dermenjian.
The units were serving in locations all over the United States; in Germany, Canada and El Salvador; from changing two units' whole operational function, to providing survey and design support, supporting active duty missions, helping build a forward landing strip in the Southern Calif. Desert, training units and going through training, and deploying units to the Middle East. This battalion and its Soldiers are taking their commitment to the Army seriously.
"I don't think you really realize all what you've done until you get something like this, and then you sit down and somebody asks you to, 'hey, reflect back on all that you've accomplished.'" Said Dermenjian, "Then after you've done it, you look at it and go 'oh God, we've done a lot!'"
The award was named after Gen. Walter T. Kerwin Jr., the Army's second-highest-ranking officer during the mid-1970s, as vice chief of staff. Kerwin's dedication to military readiness and his focus on the "total Army" concept, promoting the National Guard and Army Reserve as equally valuable in the Army mission, prompted the AUSA to use his name for this prestigious award.
"I've told previous staff members and current staff members, 'take a look at this and cherish it, because what this really reflects is, you guys are the best battalion in the Army Reserve'"
This is the second year in a row that a battalion from the 416th TEC received the Kerwin Award for Readiness. The 983rd Engineer Battalion won it for their performance in 2014, for their participation in Beyond the Horizon, Dominican Republic.
To see the 367th and all of the other units that supported Taskforce Northstar visit https://www.dvidshub.net/video/421149/bth-2015-final-video.
Reported from Darrien, Ill., by Army Staff Sgt. Jason Proseus.
Originally story updated: 367th Engineer Battalion location is actually St. Joseph, Minn.