With improvised explosive devices claiming more lives than any other weapon in Operation Iraqi Freedom, few assignments were more mission critical than the road clearance patrols performed in large part by Army engineers. Second Lieutenant Scott Sparrow of the United States Army was a platoon leader with Bravo Company, Task Force 321 Engineers, in Iraq.
His engineering battalion served in support of several units in the area, including the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. From September of 2006 through September of 2007, Sparrow led on over 200 missions to clear and secure the treacherous, but essential, roads near al Ramadi. Those central desert roads saw some of the highest volumes of IED attacks in all of Iraq.Sparrow and his platoon's efforts contributed greatly to the stability of the area around Al Ramadi. Sparrow's leadership, courage, and attention to detail made this effort possible. His actions have left a tremendous legacy behind him, a legacy that was cemented by follow-up safety operations that established four combat outposts. These outposts allowed for improved security in the region, due in no small part to Sparrow's clearance patrols. For these reasons he was awarded the fourth highest honor in the United States military, the Bronze Star.
During the course of these arduous missions, his platoon cleared over 160 improvised explosive devices – weapons that would have killed and maimed indiscriminately. The danger of these patrols was confirmed when vehicles in their platoon were hit over 15 times by IEDs, in addition to coming under numerous small arms and rocket attacks.
On one notable mission in the Lake TharThar region his unit cleared over 12 hidden weapons caches that had the components necessary to build a staggering 200 IEDs. Another startling find in the caches, was the presence of anti-air systems that would have posed a grave threat to the countless Coalition aircraft.
Photo and information courtesy of US Army / Dept. of Defense