FLORENCE, Ariz. –
Soldiers with the 253rd Engineer Battalion accepted the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) award today for exceptional service in support of operations Spartan Shield and Freedom’s Sentinel. The award was earned collectively by the unit's service members for their outstanding work and support during their deployment in 2019.
The MUC is a unit award for exceptionally honorable conduct in performance of outstanding services during military operations against an armed enemy. Units must display outstanding devotion and superior performance during exceptionally difficult tasks that set them apart from other units with similar missions.
The 253rd Engineer Battalion deployed as a multi-component battalion of National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers from Arizona and different states. While deployed, the battalion supported over 750 Soldiers across four engineering companies.
“We were so successful at bettering and furthering the mission of our allies and other American forces throughout the Middle East during that year, and I give that to my Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Peggy Grunewald, battalion commander during the unit's deployment. “This was not just to the 253rd Engineer Battalion Soldiers from Arizona but the four other companies from Reserve and National Guard components from different states.”
The battalion supported hundreds of work orders and were critical in planning, supporting, training, and coordinating multiple partnerships. Soldiers participated in over 98 construction projects dispersed over several countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, and Afghanistan.
“We knew we were going to be divided over multiple countries and doing different types of engineering projects,” said Grunewald. "It was a tough deployment and I think people pushed themselves to limits they never thought they could achieve, and I think that was a big success for everyone who went.”
Soldiers had to be flexible and agile when encountering issues in logistics and confronting force postures in different countries. Soldiers were moving throughout the area of operation to complete projects while finding solutions to problems they encountered in order to ensure mission success.
"This was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done," said Grunewald, then explaining, "I say that because I think, for a lot of my Soldiers, it was one of the hardest things they've ever done.”
The MUC does not get awarded to all deploying units, so it is a substantial accomplishment for the 253rd Engineer Battalion. The award will serve as a reminder of the value of teamwork, professionalism, selfless service, and dedication to the mission for all current and future ranks.
“The resilience they showed on this deployment was incredible," said Grunewald. "...and I am so proud of every single Soldier who was over there, because it was not easy.”