September marks 10 years since the return home of Wyoming's 1041st Engineer Company Assault Float Bridge of the Army National Guard. The unit was the most decorated in the state since the 300th Armored Field Artillery fought in Soyang in 1951 during the Korean War.

Looking back on an old training exercise in June of 2002 must have looked like a walk in the park. They built a bridge over Glendo Reservoir with no improvised explosive devices there.

Later the 155 soldiers left to provide security force to commercial convoys throughout Iraq. Insurgents were pushed northwest into the Sunni Triangle, but there the Cowboy soldiers encountered frequent strikes in the form of powerful IEDs.

According to then Sgt. Shane Whitworth it seemed the convoys hit on IEDs almost every day in December 2006.

“That’s when things got pretty Western out there… It just seemed like we were getting hit every night and we’re thinking, man, when is this going to stop?”

Those words were from the man who’s armored security vehicle was virtually destroyed by a large roadside IED, but Whitworth managed to drive it on all flats, while suffering a concussion. More often than not, his was the kind of danger the unit faced.

The convoys carried precious fuel and supplies to several forward operating and combat operating bases in population centers like Mosul, Kirkuk, Al Basrah and Baghdad.

For their service from Oct. 2006 – Aug. 2007, the soldiers earned 37 Bronze Stars, three with ‘V’ device and 12 Army Commendations Medals, with ‘V’ device. The unit had to have gone through a lot just to receive that many citations. Just thinking about that seems enough information to get a sense of all the action. Now think about this: The 1041st was also bestowed 36 Purple Hearts. Yes, 36 Purple Hearts, along with 103 Combat Action Badges.

The 1041st saw 175 enemy contacts, amid an estimated 189 total missions.

The unit included soldiers from Rock Springs, Afton and Evanston and other towns from across the state as well as soldiers from Idaho, North Dakota, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Texas and California.

After 10 years, again we say welcome back and thanks for your service.