Army Col. Benjamin J. Corell, the former commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" of the Iowa Army National Guard, addresses congressional, military and industry leaders after accepting the 2012 Citizen Patriot Unit Award during a ceremony at Fort Myer, Va., Sept. 5, 2012. The Iowa "Red Bulls" were recognized for their successful deployment and sacrifice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from November 2010 to July 2011 in Afghanistan.
ARLINGTON, Va. – The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th “Red Bull” Infantry Division of the Iowa Army National Guard was awarded the Citizen Patriot Award for its exemplary service while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Accepting the award on behalf of the brigade during a ceremony at Fort Myer, Va., was Army Col. Benjamin J. Corell, the commander of the unit during its deployment from November 2010 to July 2011.
The brigade’s outstanding contribution to the security and defense posture of the United States during their deployment set them apart from other applicants, but so did the emotional aspect of losing four soldiers.
“We had twelve nominations from all of the services – Army, Navy Marines, and the Air Force – and what we looked for were units that made the greatest contribution to national security,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Bouldin, the president of the Reserve Forces Policy Board Fellows Society, the independent committee who selected the individual and unit Citizen Patriot awardees.
“Of all the nominations that we had, the thing that stood out was that these soldiers had been truthfully in harm’s way,” he said. “And all of the units had performed magnificently, but this unit had lost four of its soldiers.”
Corell said he was humbled to represent the thousands of soldiers who came together to perform a successful mission.
“I also realize that it takes a village to raise a child, and that means our employers and families back at home, the leadership of the Iowa National Guard, and the Nebraska National Guard – tonight I accept this on behalf of all of them,” he said.
Their deployment to Afghanistan was the one of the largest deployments of Iowa National Guard members since World War II, said Guard officials.
Guard officials said key accomplishments of the brigade were:
-- Increased capability of the local Afghan government to provide for the essential needs of the Afghan people resulting in 61 percent of the local Afghan population within the Task Force Red Bulls area of operations believing that their government was working to better their lives
--Led one of the largest air assault operations in Regional Command-East and cleared insurgent activity from 400 square miles of the Galuch Valley in Laghman province.
-- Conducted numerous direct and indirect fire missions to support coalition forces and suppress enemy insurgency.
-- Coordinated with local institutions and other multi-national agencies resulting in the increased credibility of Afghan provincial and district institutions.
“As in previous conflicts, the “Red Bulls” lived up to their history and Iowa’s citizen-soldier reputation as some of the finest and most dependable soldiers in the Army,” said Army Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard.
In attendance to present the award to Corell and the brigade was Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., director of the Army National Guard.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa Army National Guard recognized at the national level for their deployment excellence,” Ingram said.
“I could not be more proud of these superb soldiers and their families – for their successful deployment, their continued sacrifice, selfless service, and all the things we count on them, as Army guardsmen, to do every day, whether at home or oversees,” he said.