FORT RILEY, Kan. (Feb. 9, 2012)
-- The 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Heavy
Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, honored
ninety-four of its Soldiers during an awards ceremony held
Jan. 30th on Fort Riley.
Soldiers of the 1st Combat Arms Battalion 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, halt movement during the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment award ceremony held at Marshall Airfield, Fort Riley, Kan., Jan. 31, 2012. Soldiers from the Army's most decorated Infantry Battalion recently returned home from a 9-month deployment to Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Photo by
Army Staff Sgt. Robert DeDeaux
The Soldiers recently completed
their tour and returned home in January to loved ones,
rejoining the rest of their brigade at Fort Riley.
Honorees received nearly 100 awards including six Purple
Hearts, 76 Bronze Stars, and six Army Commendation Medals
Recognized as the most decorated infantry
battalion in the Army, the unit, also known as the "Iron
Rangers," has served in nearly every major U.S. war,
beginning with the Civil War. While training for a
deployment to Iraq, the unit received new orders that
changed their mission to assisting with "Operation Enduring
Freedom," in Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. James Smith,
battalion commander, said his unit had only a short amount
of time to prepare for their new mission.
mission changed and we only had forty-six days of notice,"
Assigned to support the "Combined Joint
Special Task Force," the "Iron Rangers" were deployed to
fifty-eight remote locations across Afghanistan. They
completed over ten thousand missions as part of Village
Stability Operations with the Afghan people. The operations
connected the government of Afghanistan to the village
level. Afghans learned the ways of their government through
conducted training that educated them on their constitution.
Smith said that he felt the mission was a success.
"I felt a lot of pride. We trained transition teams
that expanded to one thousand. I think we accomplished the
mission superbly. We brought everyone back home," Smith
With no personnel losses, the infantrymen
stood in formation and were recognized with medals, for
their courageous and meritorious service to their nation.
Some Soldiers received multiple awards.
Caleb Vanvoorhis, received both the Purple Heart and the
Bronze Star. He was wounded in combat on Jan. 19, 2011.
Being in a combat zone, Vanvoorhis knows his situation could
have turned out differently. He shared his gratitude towards
"I give all credit to the guys. We got a
lot accomplished while we out there. The memory will stick
with me forever," Vanvoorhis said.
successful mission and another achievement added to the
impressive lineage of the battalion, Smith shared his pride
in his men.
"Our Soldiers have grown into a lot of
maturity. They have developed and are self-sustaining. A lot
of thanks goes to the families and Family Readiness Groups.
The strength of our family is the strength of our Soldiers."
By Army Staff Sgt. Robert DeDeaux, 1st HBCT PAO, 1st Inf. Div.
Army News Service
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