Lending a helping hand in local communities result in four national engineer awards for a Missouri unit and soldiers

By: Scott Moyers
Unit Public Affairs Representative

FESTUS, Mo. - Two small-town community parks projects helped propel the Missouri National Guard's 220th Engineer Company to four national engineering awards, presented recently at the Army Engineer Association ceremony at Fort Leonard Wood.

The Festus-based unit was selected for the prestigious 2009 Itschner Award, presented annually to the engineer company in each Army component (Regular Army, U.S. Army Reserve, and Army National Guard) selected as most outstanding in their respective component for the award year.

The 220th Engineers also won three other individual awards, including for outstanding platoon leader, contributions to military troop construction and for overall honorable attributes.

"It was absolutely a great year," said Capt. Timothy Biedenstein, the 220th Engineer company commander. "It shows we were able to do great things when we were given the opportunity."

The projects that stood out were two parks related projects that the 220th did during last year's annual training in Barnhart and Jackson. The 220th Engineers earthwork, largely soil excavation and grading in nature, paved the way in Barnhart for four tennis courts, a soccer field and a softball diamond on 15 acres near Freer Elementary School that children will be able to enjoy for years to come.

In Jackson, the company did similar work at Brookside Park that will make way for a future sports complex on four acres there.

"Those were our big production numbers in 2009," Biedenstein said. "We were able to move a lot of materials. We moved 100,000 cubic yards of material - dirt, rock, gravel. We put a good face on the National Guard, going out and working in communities. We were very visible. The 220th really stepped up to the plate."

The prestigious Itschner Award is named in honor of Lt. Gen. Emerson C. Itschner, the 39th Chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It has been presented annually since 1960. Since 1974, the competition was broadened to include the Army National Guard and the Army Reserves.

Individually, three other members of the 220th Engineers received awards:

- 1st Lt. Jason Davis received the 2009 Outstanding Platoon Leader in the National Guard category.

- Sgt. 1st Class John Roberts was presented with the Sturgis Medal, which is presented for outstanding contributions to military troop construction.

- Spc. Ethan Coulson was presented with the Van Autreve Award, named in honor of former Sergeant Major of the Army Leon Van Autreve. Each year, the award is presented to Soldiers who display honorable attributes. Distinguishing selection areas include physical fitness, marksmanship, educational growth, and morale and welfare activities.

Biedenstein said he was especially proud of these three Soldiers.

"Sgt. Roberts was the NCOIC at the Jackson site project and for two or three drill periods he acted as first sergeant while the first sergeant wasn't available," Biedenstein said. "Lt. Davis was the officer in charge at the Barnhart project. They were two of the major players on the ground. Spc. Coulson is just an all-around go-getter."

Coulson is actually prepared to deploy, Biedenstein said.

"All of these awards prove what I already knew to be true," he said. "We are the best engineer company in the regiment. We're the best in the National Guard."


Posted: 6/8/2010 3:27:21 PM

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