By Andrea Sutherland (Fort Carson)June 14, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- The 42 Soldiers from the 749th Ordnance Company, 242nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), are happy to be home.
"It feels good," said Sgt. Tyler Sumlin. "I missed having a comfortable bed and having the freedom to drive."
Sumlin and his comrades returned home June 6 after a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan where they conducted hundreds of combat missions in support of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, as well as the Afghan National Army and Afghan Uniformed Police.
The Soldiers destroyed more than 415 improvised explosive devices and disposed of more than 97,000 pounds of unexploded ordnance and homemade explosives.
"After a couple of missions, (preparing for a mission) becomes routine," Sumlin said. "It's all muscle memory -- do I have all of my gear? Making sure everything is working properly."
Headquartered in Regional Command-South, EOD teams responded to hundreds of threats and conducted 130 post-blast analyses in 2nd BCT's area of responsibility in Kandahar Province, covering more than 50,000 square miles.
"The guys did an outstanding job over there," said Capt. Corbin Copeland, commander.
Copeland said his company was responsible for nine EOD teams that participated in more than 970 combat missions.
"We came home with zero injuries," he said. "That's not typical of any Army unit. With an EOD unit, you're even more at risk. When others are backing away from IEDs, we go in and take care of it."
In addition to combat missions, Soldiers of 749th Ord. worked and trained with Afghan EOD teams and partnered with members of the Slovakian army to help develop its EOD program.
"We spent countless hours of training with the ANA and the Afghan police developing soldiering skills and building the capacity for Afghan EOD teams," Copeland said. "An Afghan EOD tech is probably the most dangerous job you can have."
Because of its efforts, the company earned numerous awards, including five Slovakian Afghan Commemorative Service medals, 20 Bronze Star medals and 11 Hero of the Battle Space awards from Combined Joint Task Force Paladin-South.
Copeland said his Soldiers were recognized as the best company under Paladin.
Even with all of the awards and recognition, Soldiers said they still enjoy coming home.
1st Lt. Aaron Graff said he was looking forward to visiting loved ones in Pennsylvania and enjoying the outdoors.
"I was only here two months before we deployed, so I want to do all of the things Colorado Springs has to offer," he said, listing fishing, hiking and climbing Pikes Peak. "It feels good to be home and breathe in the clean, Colorado air."