NEWS | May 18, 2021

Armed Forces Day salute to two Soldiers who volunteer for our nation

By Cheryl Moore U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Division

Armed Forces Day 2021 was the perfect backdrop for two extraordinary Army reservists to be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Task Force Essayons.

Closing the ranks as the last commander leading the charge for the Transatlantic Division’s Task Force Essayons, Col. John C. Haas Jr. was awarded the Presidential Meritorious Service Medal by Brig. Gen. Kimberly M. Colloton, commander of the Transatlantic Division.

His citation read in part, “For exceptionally meritorious service as the commander of the Task Force Essayons while in support of combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. Col. Haas’ leadership significantly contributed to the success of the Task Force in providing strategic vision and engineer expertise. Through his constant engagement and awareness of the Task Essayons capabilities, he helped guide projects through the approval process that were critical to the Warfighter.

Col. Haas Jr. joined the Transatlantic Division, as commander, Task Force Essayons from the 412th Theater Engineer Command in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he was the deputy chief of staff, G3. Prior to joining the 412th Theater Engineer Command, he was the commander of the 391st Engineer Battalion in Greenville, South Carolina.
He has served in a variety of command and staff assignments which took him from Kingsville, Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Grand Prairie, Texas, to deploy with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment to Iraq as the Regimental Engineer."

Former commanders who led the Task Force Essayons command were Col. Paul B. Culberson, Col. James G. Riley, Col. Hugh W. Darville, Col. Corey M. Spencer and Col. Thomas D. Asbery.

The last senior enlisted advisor who closes the door behind him for the Task Force Essayons command is Sgt. Maj. William L. Klaers who was also presented the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal by Colloton during a casing of the Task Force Essayons colors at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Klaers’ citation read in part, “For exceptionally meritorious service as Transatlantic Division-Task Force Essayons senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. Maj. Klaers’ leadership, professionalism and dedication directly contributed to the successful operation of a USACE contingency task force in the Combined Joint Area of Operations. His actions and unwavering support of Operation Inherent Resolve’s missions of defeating ISIS and the building partner nation capacity reflect great credit upon himself, the Transatlantic Division, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the United States Army."

Klaers assumed responsibilities as the sergeant major for Task Force Essayons in July 2020, headquartered in Camp Taji, Iraq, with offices in Iraq and Kuwait. As the senior enlisted advisor to the Task Force commander, he provided advice and counsel to the commander and senior staff on all organizational strategic processes and operations, providing support to the USACE missions, and working with Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria.

Klaers began his military career in 1982 when he enlisted in the Army Reserve as a 63B, light wheeled vehicle/power generation mechanic and was assigned to the 825th Quartermaster Company in Wilmar, Minn., With many roads along the way of his dynamic and growing career, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in agriculture education from North Dakota State University.

He was promoted to sergeant major in May 2013 and wears many awards and decorations on his uniform to include Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

“The relations you have built with ARCENT depending on us, your steadfast commitment has been a consistent," said Colloton, the Transatlantic Division commander, “You each continued to tackle difficult problems and worked through the issues.”