FORT BLISS, TX (WLOX) - Soldiers in the Mississippi National Guard's 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team are receiving a big commendation for a deployment dating back more than 13 years.
This weekend in Fort Bliss, TX, the 155th was presented with the Navy Unit Commendation at a ceremony. The award was given as a result of the work the team did while serving overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2005 and 2006.
"That was really the first time we had been deployed in a long time," said Col. Robert D. Ferguson, commander, 155th ABCT. "We went over there in a hostile environment and we did really well. We lost a lot of soldiers over there so it was a great honor to come back 13 years later so it was a great honor for us to receive this award and put on our colors and streamers."
The honor is especially monumental because it's not often given to an Army brigade, military officials said. However, the 155th served under the II Marine Expeditionary Force during the operation.
A proclamation by fellow Mississippian and then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus allowed all Army and Air Force elements to be included when receiving awards of this nature. The Navy Unit Commendation is awarded for heroic actions against an armed enemy.
A total of 28 soldiers and civilians assigned to the 155th were lost in battle during Operation Iraqi Freedom III during combat operations. Sixteen of those soldiers were from the 155th ABCT.
"This commendation is dedicated to the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during that deployment," said Col. Ferguson.
The ceremony ended with a casing of the brigade and battalion colors. The colors will remain cased until the unit arrives in the Middle East and officially begins their deployment later this month in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
"The experience we gained from that 2004-2006 deployment, we've taken with us. Even today, as we go back for another tour over there," said Col. Ferguson.