‘Raiders’ receive awards after 1-year Afghanistan deployment
The 1st Pltn., 977th MP Co., 97th MP Bn. is decorated during an awards ceremony Jan. 27 at Barlow Theater as Family members and friends look on. The “Raiders” recently returned from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
Story by: Pamela Redford
1ST INF. DIV. POST
Sixty-one Soldiers with the 1st Platoon, 977th Military Police Company, 97th MP Battalion, were honored Jan. 27 with an awards ceremony in front of friends and Family members at Barlow Theater on Custer Hill.
The 1st Pltn. returned in December 2011 from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom under the command of platoon leader, 1st Lt. Zachary Youngsma, and platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class David Rupp.
"I am proud to report on their behalf, mission accomplished," said Lt. Col. Michael L. Matthews, commander, 97th MP Bn.
Calling the combat veterans "true American heroes," Matthews said the day was a celebration of excellence for accomplishing the mission to very high standards.
The "Raiders" conducted detention operations in support of Special Operations Command, Afghanistan. Matthews praised them for securing and safeguarding the very people trying to destabilize the nation.
"Sixty out of 61 volunteered for their service to our nation after Sept. 11, 2001, during a time of war – knowing full well that their decision would require them to deploy and fight somewhere, sometime. It is humbling to be with them today. Indeed, it is humbling to be with them any day. Thank you all for your service to our Nation," he said.
Taking time to thank Family members for all they did to sustain their Soldiers from afar, Matthews said they were critical to the success of the unit.
"You give so much and ask for so little. We could not achieve these high standards without you," he said.
Rachel Harper, wife of Spc. Randy Harper, received the Commander's Award for Public Service, and Amanda Rupp, wife of Sgt. 1st Class David Rupp, received the Order of the Vivandieres for Outstanding Support, Dedication and Devotion.
Pfc. Monserrat Padron received the Army Achievement Medal for meritorious service while performing force protection duties at the Bagram Airfield.
Pfc. Corey Eichenberger received the Joint Service Achievement Medal for exceptional achievement in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Squad leader Staff Sgt. Robert Norton was awarded the Bronze Star Medal exceptionally meritorious service in a combat zone with exposure to risk of hostile action during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Platoon leader 1st Lt. Zachary Youngsma also was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
All Soldiers in the platoon received the Joint Service Commendation Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.