Capt. Jared P. Myers
14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Eng. Brigade
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Selfless service and an uncommon sense of duty took the form of 86 raised right hands, as the oath of re-enlistment was read to “Task Force Rugged” Soldiers, here, March 3.
“Duty, honor and country,” said Lt. Col. John Buck, commander, 14th Engineer Battalion, TF Rugged, 555th Eng. Brigade, during the ceremony. “That spirit courses through the veins of each one of these Rugged Soldiers.”
Nowhere was that spirit more evident than in the actions of Spc. Maximillian Shaal, wheeled vehicle mechanic, 95th Engineer Company, 65th Eng. Battalion, 130th Eng. Bde., 8th Theater Sustainment Command, based out of Schofield Barracks.
Shaal was one of six TF Rugged Soldiers awarded the Purple Heart in a ceremony before the re-enlistment.
Less than half an hour later, he raised his right hand and swore an oath, recommitting himself to service in the Army.
Successfully gathering most of the “Rugged 100” at a central location proved to be a challenge of its own.
For the past eight months, the 1,200-troop battalion has been finding and clearing deadly improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, from local roads before the IEDs could endanger their intended victims.
Effective coverage of these roads means decentralization of the battalion across three Regional Commands in southern Afghanistan, an area roughly the size of Washington state.
Ensuring this critical mission remained unaffected by the ceremony required months of planning, dozens of personnel substitutions and thousands of miles in travel.
Initial preparations began six months before the first contract was signed, due to mission constraints. Even so, 40 Soldiers of a total 126 Soldiers, swore their oaths from remote bases.
“Very rarely has one battalion been able to re-enlist more than 100 Soldiers on one day,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jammy Tighe, battalion career counselor, 14th Eng. Bn. “That’s an astronomical feat.”
Of the 126 Soldiers who re-enlisted, 12 received the Purple Heart, for wounds sustained during this deployment; 26 earned the Combat Action Badge, with several more pending its award for recent combat action.
TF Rugged is composed of companies from the 14th Eng. Bn., 555th Eng. Bde., Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; the 576th Eng. Co., 4th Eng. Bn., Fort Carson, Colo.; the 509th Eng. Co., 5th Eng. Bn.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; and the 95th Eng. Co., 65th Eng. Bn., 130th Eng. Bde., 8th TSC.