By 2nd Lt. Lauren Looper Public Affairs Representative, 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command August 27, 2012
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD -- It was all smiles and shouts of joy throughout the crowd as Soldiers of the 95th Engineer Company (Clearance) marched into the building here at Wheeler Gulch Aug. 14.
The company, part of 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, redeployed to Schofield Barracks after a successful one-year tour in Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Darman Place, commander of 65th Eng. Bn., expressed his gratitude for their service. "Having the 95th Route Clearance 'Wolfpack' home is, simply put, an answered prayer and marks the first time the 65th Engineer Battalion has been whole in over three years," Place said. "The Soldiers of the Wolfpack, each and every one of them, are American heroes and deserve this heroes' welcome."
During their deployment, 95th Eng. Co. Sappers cleared thousands of miles of roads in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as part of Task Force Rugged, according to Capt. Taylor Oney, the rear detachment commander. He said they also cleared the way for multi-national troops throughout Regional Commands South, Southwest and West; including British, Danish, Georgian, Italian, and Afghanistan forces along with U.S. Army and Marines.
In April, the unit helped clear the way into a Taliban stronghold that had not yet had an International Security Assistance Force presence, said Capt. Matthew Miller, commander of 95th Eng. Co.
In addition to performing route clearance, Oney said Wolfpack Soldiers completed a variety of other combat engineer tasks. They reduced over 100 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosively breached IED belts and destroyed Taliban bunkers, fighting positions and ambush sites, Oney said. They also destroyed homemade explosive (HME) caches, underground Karez systems and IED components which prevented the creation of more of these deadly devices, he said.
The courageous actions of the members of the 95th Eng. Co. are evident in the 30 Purple Hearts, and 93 Combat Action Badges awarded to Soldiers. Additionally, one Soldier earned the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and 11 members earned the Bronze Star, Oney said.
"The Sappers of the 95th Engineer Company (Clearance) are the most professional Soldiers I have ever had the privilege of working with in my 21 years of service," said 1st Sgt. Vincent Silva, of 95th Eng. Co. "It is my honor to have served with such an amazing team of officers and noncommissioned officers."
In the end, what mattered most to families attending the welcome home ceremony was the moment their Soldiers received the command, "dismissed!" Upon this utterance, families rushed forward to be reunited, and Soldiers held spouses and children they had not seen in 12 months.
Soldiers, who redeployed early for medical treatment after suffering wounds, also welcomed their company-mates home. Miller recognized the significance of the occasion and said, "It feels great to have the entire Wolfpack back in Hawaii, and having all of our wounded warriors here to be reunited with their comrades makes it that much better."