FORT KNOX, Ky. -- About 400 people filled in to Sadowski Center here July 29 and welcomed about 150 42nd Clearance Company Soldiers who just returned from a 9-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The 19th Engineer Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Brad Morgan, presided over the ceremony and praised the troops on a job well done.

"First and foremost, they deployed with 148 Soldiers and they returned safely with all of them," Morgan said. "This is a testament to the strength, dedication and commitment of the Soldiers who stand before you today … and I just want to highlight the fact that it took two companies from the 82nd Airborne Division to replace the 42nd."

The 42nd's troops cleared nearly 7,000 miles of road to support NATO, U.S. Army, Marines and Romanian elements conducting operations throughout the country. Part of this mission, Morgan said, included ridding a total of about 400 suspected improvised explosives device sites and 28 confirmed booby traps from critical routes.

42nd Clearance Company Commander Capt. Aaron Beattie said his the unit seeks and finds danger so that others don't happen upon it.

"We take our route clearance platoons to survey or recon possible routes that the maneuver forces want to take," Beattie said. "We're out there day or night to find what dangers are there, [report] the enemy situation and uncover the IEDs on routes [Soldiers] might take."

The unit also cleared eight rocket launch sites and conducted 33 quick reaction force missions into areas deemed possibly hostile. The missions resulted in 10 confirmed vehicle strikes, but all deployed 42nd Clearance Company Soldiers returned back to Fort Knox.

"The enemy does what it does to take lives, and when you deploy, you think to yourself that it's possible that you could lose someone," said Staff Sgt. Jamaal Selmon of the 42nd. "You do your best to do what you can to make sure everyone comes home safe - not just in your company, but even those Soldiers you don't know."

Spc. Drew Cox is a mechanic in the unit, and a vehicle in which he was riding was hit by an IED.
"I can't tell you much, it just happened," said Cox. "We're on mission and everyone's looking out, but it just happened."

Cox also experienced another major event while deployed -- watching the birth of his daughter.
"He got to witness Ellie's birth on Facetime, but this is the first time they've actually met," Emilee said. "We have some of our family down, but all I want is to make him dinner and just for him to relax and get to know her."