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Bravo Battery welcomed home

Soldiers of B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery were officially honored and welcomed home at the Lander armory, May 7 with a Freedom Salute after recently completing a deployment to Afghanistan.

Master of ceremonies for the event, 1st Lt. Timothy Tierney, said the event was an opportunity for elected and military leaders and the community to publicly acknowledge the soldiers, as well as their families, friends, employers and others that supported them during the deployment.

Those attending the ceremony to welcome home the 28 soldiers included Gov. Matt Mead; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney; Brig. Gen. Tammy Maas, commander of the Wyoming Army National Guard; Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Pafford, Army command sergeant major; Lt. Col. Kent Porter, 115th Field Artillery Brigade commander; and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Laird, 115th Field Artillery Brigade command sergeant major.

During their deployment, the soldiers were assigned to Joint Special Operations Command and part of a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System task force that took part in 87 missions, deploying precision-guided munitions with high explosive warheads on enemy positions with no civilian casualties.

“We celebrate you who volunteer to go into harm’s way for the rest of us and who volunteer to provide security for the rest of us,” said Mead to the troops. “I am so proud to be your commander in chief.”

Cheney also thanked the soldiers and their families for their service to state and nation.

“I have heard the National Anthem at many, many events and have never been as moved as I am here today with you Wyoming soldiers. We all owe you a debt of gratitude,” she said.

Maas expressed her gratitude, but focused on the unit’s accomplishments while in theater.

“Task Force HIMARS did split-operations twice with limited personnel including 34 C-130 lifts, over 30 rotary-wing movements and the establishment of a new firing position in a forward operating base. Each time they occupied a [forward operating base] they were in position, ready to fire the same night they arrived on ground. They truly set the standard for excellence in combat. Job well done Bravo Battery!”

As part of the Yellow Ribbon Freedom Salute, soldiers and their families were presented information about veteran’s health, education, employment resources and other benefits.

Additionally, the soldiers received certificates, a framed American flag and coins, to include the governor’s coin.

An individual award was presented to Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Beecham, the forward unit’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge, who was recognized by the American Legion as “Citizen Soldier of the Year.”

Honored for their first combat deployment were: Sgt. Ethan Arnold; Sgt. Mitchell Brauneis; Sgt. James Dekruyf; Sgt. Joseph Denevan; Spc. Tayler Dukart; Spc. Zacheria Hershley; Sgt. Derek Leonhardt; Spc. Nathan Merritt; Staff Sgt. Matthew Moore; Spc. Terry Pritchett; Spc. Paul Rairamo; Spc. Colt Rauterkus; Sgt. Kevin Romero; Spc. Jonathan Schlager; Spc. Reese Seiver; Spc. Colby Siggins; Sgt. Zachary Sutherlin; Sgt. Christopher Walsh and Capt. Ivo Wambeke. Soldiers with two or more deployments are: Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Beecham; Staff Sgt. Peter Brown; Capt. Jason Cristanelli; Staff Sgt. Brian Davis; Staff Sgt. Frank Foster; Staff Sgt. Justin Jackson; Staff Sgt. Dana Palmer; Staff Sgt. Derek Paxiao and Staff Sgt. Stephen Riggs.