SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, H.I. — The 71st Chemical “Dragon Fire” Company, 303rd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command uncased their unit colors in a ceremony on Hamilton Field, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii Nov. 22, hosted by Lt. Col. Philip D. Cordaro, commander of the 303rd.
The ceremony officially marked their return from a nine-month training rotation in South Korea as part of Korea Rotational Forces 11 from Feb. 4 to Nov. 7. During the rotation, the Dragon Fire Company provided Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance, hazard assessment, and decontamination capabilities to various joint training missions with Republic of Korea Army and U.S. Army units on the peninsula.
Most notably during the rotation, the 71st Dragon Soldiers completed validation exercises Operation Ready Strike, in support of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and Pacific Medic Focus '22 in support of the 65th Medical Brigade.
“Dragon Fire Soldiers, I could not be prouder to have you as part of the 303rd Ordnance Battalion- EOD,” said Lt. Col. Cordaro. “We train to be technically proficient and to be able to do our job. But being able to take that capability, and integrate with a maneuver force... there’s no greater sense of accomplishment in really seeing the impact that you have and the importance of your job every single day.”
Among their accomplishments from the execution of successful training events with United States Forces Korea (USFK) units, the Dragon Soldiers also achieved individual success with numerous awards, promotions, as well as foreign proficiency badges and military decorations. 71st Chemical Company commander, Cpt. Melanie Pagan, expressed her gratitude for everything her unit achieved during the 9-month tour.
“As a senior leader in this company, I watched these Soldiers show up for themselves, each other, and this organization for over two years,” said Pagan. I could not be prouder of the people that stand before you today. It has truly been a pleasure to serve with them and I’m so thankful I was afforded the opportunity to lead such incredible men and women each day.”
Upon the ceremony’s conclusion, the 71st commander and first sergeant uncased the company flag, signifying that the Dragon Fire team was officially back in garrison after a deployed operation. Operations and exercises provide invaluable opportunities to further our integration with the Joint Force and promote interoperability with Allies and partners—how we train, operate, and fight as part of combined coalitions.