U.S. Army Photo
Charlie Company 3rd Platoon works to stabilize
the 14th of July Bridge in Baghdad Iraq.
Charlie Company of the 1457th Engineer Battalion was awarded
the prestigious Itschner award for being the best National Guard Engineering
company nationwide. They are led under the command of Capt. Gibb and 1st
The Itschner Award, which is actually a plaque, is given in honor of Lt.
Gen. Emerson C. Itschner. There are three of them awarded each year. One is
given to an Active Army Engineer Company, Reserve Company, and National Guard
Company. The award is presented to the most outstanding company during the
year. The Itschner Plaque first came about in the year 1960, but it wasnt
until 1974 that the award was offered to Reserve and National Guard components.
U.S. Army Photo
Sign located in front of Charlie Company's tents
pitched in Baghdad, Iraq.
The men from Charlie
Company come from all over the state of Utah, as well as from states as far
away as Georgia and Virginia. Sgt. Versace commutes to drill from
out-of-state. It came as a surprise! he said upon learning they had
received such a high honor. He wasnt sure why they had been picked out of
the other companies in the 1457th Battalion, which he also
thought worked extremely hard. He also said that his platoon had done an
amazing job at maintaining a high standard of physical excellence which
reflected on their APFT scores. Over half of his platoon received the
Physical fitness patch for outstanding physical performance on their Army
Physical Fitness Test. He speaks of their accomplishments in a nostalgic
tone and stops to say how he misses his guys, although theyve only been
separated two weeks since their arrival home. These men of Charlie Company
had spent over a year away from home and with each other. They pulled
together and did everything that was asked of them. They completed many
high priority missions faster than what was expected of them. They never
failed any mission given them.
Lt. Col. Burton, commander
of the 1457th Engineer Battalion, said that Charlie Company just did
some incredible things through the course of the year. Some of the missions
they performed actually received national and world media attention. Charlie
Company was specifically recognized in the Washington Post and New York Times
for some of the missions they performed like the Saddam Dig and the U.N.
U.S. Army Photo
Capt. David Gibb (Commander of Charlie Company)
1st Sgt. Derek Dimond of Charlie Company.
U.S. Army Photo
Charlie Company 3rd Platoon
pauses for a group picture, taken of the 14th of July Bridge in Baghdad,
kinds of things really helped to solidify the award for them. It was more than
just those two events; it was just a kind of sustained high tempo over the last
year. The 14th of July Bridge was huge as well. It got
international attention. The high visibility and the attention that was drawn
to Charlie Company because of what they did really pushed them over the edge.
If everything was equal, that would have been enough to win the award for
Charlie Company. Burton explained.
Lt. Col. Burton also commended all 1457th troops saying We just have
great soldiers and great leaders. They did just a superb job. Thats why the
active component was so stunned. They havent had a lot of exposure to the
guard, but I think what happened over there opened a lot of eyes.
The 1457th Engineer Battalion was dubbed the 9-1-1 Battalion
by the 1st Armored Division Brigade Engineer Commander, Col. Lou
Marich. They where given this name because of the swiftness with which they
responded to a call. Charlie Company represented this title perfectly. If
there was a car bombing, Charlie Company started preparations immediately, while
waiting for the word that their help would be needed. They were always on hand
and ready to respond to anything that came their way. They responded to many
attacks and were often the first engineers on the scene. They were there for the
bombing of the United Nations building, and multiple police stations. The
Soldiers of Charlie Company were critical for cleaning up after the destruction
and helping to search for survivors.
Lt. Neville, a platoon leader, said in order to be recognized for the
award they had to prepare a nomination packet. It had to be submitted between
December 2003 and January 2004. It was prepared by Captain Gibb, First Sergeant
Dimond, Sergeant Whatcott and Lieutenant Neville. By the time it was completed,
The packet was about 50 pages long., said Lt. Jeremy Neville. It was then
submitted to the National Guard Bureau. It consisted of every major event and
mission that had been completed from training in Ft. Lewis Washington, to
everything that had been done in Iraq.
One of the reasons Lt. Neville believes they received the award was
because their first mission had an unusually high priority. It was the mission
of excavating the area where in the beginning of the war, Saddam was believed to
have been when a restaurant was bombed. Charlie Company was in charge of the
mission that ran for a little over a week and operated 24 hours a day. Almost
every major media turned out for the event.
Another mission that they were given was to rebuild the 14th
of July Bridge. The bridge had been damaged by machine gun fire and was a major
route into the Green Zone. Sgt Caleb Johnson who works as an engineer in the
civilian world, assessed the bridge and came up with a plan to repair it. said
Neville. The bridge took about three weeks to repair.
Lt. Neville also told of another experience where Charlie Company
shined. He said There was intelligence that insurgents where going to use a
car bomb to blow up the Russian Embassy in Baghdad. We were told about it about
five hours before it was supposed to happen. We were able to react quickly
enough and get the huge barriers, such as Texas T barriers and the Jersey
barriers and spent all night barricading the Russian Embassy before the attack
happened. Because of our efforts there was no attack. They were credited for
their quick response and for keeping the bombing from taking place.
Neville also said (speaking about his company) For what theyve done
this past year has made such a great impact, that the U.S. Army, and the
Engineer Corp. has recognized them. He also heard several soldiers say that
It was a neat impression that it was able to be accomplished.
At the end of April 2004, Capt. Gibb flew back to the United States to
receive the award for his Company. At the time they were presented this award
they were also waiting for more news to find out if they were being extended for
120 more days. Some of the men, after finding out about receiving the plaque,
questioned hopefully if somehow the award would get them home sooner.
Charlie Company has now earned a place in history. They have a story to
tell, and it has been heard nationally, and they have been credited with the
hard work they have done to keep our nation safe. As Sgt. Versace quoted to me
as we spoke, the words from George Orwell, People sleep peaceably in their beds
at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. They
have stood ready and have earned the right to now sleep peaceably
in their own
Congratulations on a job
well Done Gentlemen.
U.S. Army Photo
Sgt. Nick Johnson
and Sgt. Cody Adamson string a new cable to support the pre-existing cable
that was damaged by machine gun fire.