Task Force Trailblazers:  The 1st Engineer Battalion is back in OIF
By CPT John Ordonio, 1st EN BN ADJ

The “oldest and most decorated” engineer battalion has been deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom since September 2006.  This is the battalion’s second tour in OIF but the first time it has deployed as a modular engineer battalion (Combat Effects Engineer Battalion).  The Diehard battalion supports the Multinational Division North Area of Operations (MND-N) by conducting deliberate route clearance operations on MSRs/ASRs throughout the area of operation in order to provide freedom of movement for coalition forces and the Iraqi people.  Multinational Division North’s headquarters is that of the Tropic Lighting Division, 25th ID, out of Hawaii.  The battalion is tasked organized to the 105th Engineer Group (Cbt), a National Guard unit from North Carolina.  

The 1st Engineer Battalion is well known throughout the entire AO as Task Force Trailblazer.  They are also known for the outstanding missions the Soldiers perform conducting route clearance operations.  The Soldiers conduct missions on a daily basis in efforts to counter and mitigate the IED threat and to detain or defeat those responsible for emplacing them in order to protect coalition forces and Iraqis.  The battalion is equipped with the latest technology in vehicles and equipment in order to complete their mission safely and successfully.  Many Soldiers have been awarded for their heroic and valorous conduct while facing a determined enemy.  To this date, three Soldiers earned the Bronze Star Medal with valor:  SPC Nicholas Biggs, PVT James M. Meeh, and PFC Christopher D. Cavazos.  All three Soldiers were in a patrol that was involved in an intense firefight in the city of Baqubah on November 1, 2006.  

The battalion receives outstanding support from its FRG, Rear Det, and family and friends left back in Fort Riley, KS. It is because of this support that Soldiers’ morale remains consistently high.  The battalion looks forward for the day they will return to their loved ones.   

 Note:  Picture of 1st Engineer Battalion taken in Dec 2006.  Vehicles in the background are route clearance equipment (left to right): Meerkat, Buffalo, and RG-31.