CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - Mississippi Guard members received recognition for helping to maintain their battalion's high safety record in a ceremony and cookout here Jan. 20.

Company safety officers, safety non-commissioned officers and fire wardens with 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined Arms, out of Senatobia, Miss., received certificates of recognition from the battalion commander at the base defense operations center.

"In the more than 87,000 miles this battalion has traveled across Iraq in the last seven months, there have been no major accidents, no fatalities or permanent disabilities," said Lt. Col. Kerry Goodman, battalion commander and resident of Meridian, Miss. "The same is true here at the Q-West in the living and working areas. We owe thanks to the safety officers and NCOs and the fire wardens for leading the way for us to achieve this high level of accident prevention."

Capt. Robert P. Sayle, battalion safety officer who organized the event, said he was grateful to the company safety representatives.

"They have done a great job on the many tasks placed on their shoulders during this deployment," said Sayle, a native of Lake Cormorant, Miss. "They helped educate their units on preventing accidents and helped ensure that buildings, vehicles, equipment and companies maintained safety standards. They also submitted accident reports on all injured Soldiers placed on light duty or profile and submitted reports on damaged equipment."

Sayle said the safety officers attended monthly safety council meetings, conducted required training for their Soldiers, and ensured their units met the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and 155th Brigade Combat Team guidance. The fire wardens attended training from the Q-West Fire Department and met the Army policy of conducting monthly fire safety inspections on every building, including the proper documentation.

The recognition surprised Sgt. George S. Welch, a truck commander and safety NCO for B Company, 2/198 CAB, headquartered in Greenwood, Miss.

"I didn't expect to be congratulated for the safety work I did, which was an additional duty," said Welch, a Jackson, Miss., native. "My job was to make sure the company working and living areas maintained safety standards and report deficiencies. This was a lot of extra work, important work that I am glad the battalion recognized."

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. Williamson, operations and safety NCO and fire warden for C Company, 2/198 CAB out of Oxford and Indianola, Miss., said the recognition was gratifying.

"It made me feel good to get the certificate because it represents a lot of work we did with the vehicle crews, giving classes, inspecting them, their equipment and their vehicles, making sure they followed safety procedures and used their safety equipment properly and at all times, wearing their seat belts and harnesses, their personal protection equipment," said Williamson, a native of Senatobia, Miss.

Williamson said the safety representatives had a lot of help.

"The real recognition goes to the Soldiers because they maintained standards on post and out on the roads," said Williamson. "They kept us free of major accidents and injuries."