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La. Guard engineer unit awarded best company in nation

By Spc. Duncan Foote, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana National Guard’s 922nd Engineer Vertical Construction Company, 528th Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade, received the 2023 Itschner Award on May 14, which recognizes the best engineer company each year in three categories: U.S. Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

“I think their accomplishments during the Vermillion Parish Fire Tower project helped solidify their selection,” said Col. Scott Slaven, commander of the 225th Engineer Brigade. “They embraced all elements of the CASTLE philosophy (Care, Attitude, Safety, Training, Leadership, and Empower), and turned a challenging project into an opportunity to galvanize their unit.”

“Serving as the commander of the 922nd has been the most rewarding assignment of my career,” said Capt. Keith Bonnette, commander of the 922nd EVCC. “Watching the Soldiers and leaders of this unit grow has been an amazing thing to witness.”

The award is named in honor of Lt. Gen. Emerson C. Itschner, who served as the Army chief of engineers from 1956-1961 and is presented to one National Guard engineer company annually.

“Whether it was completing high-priority construction projects, community-related events, all-hazard responses, or achieving readiness goals, the Soldiers of the 922nd displayed an unwavering commitment to mission success,” said Bonnette.

Another award, the 1LT Orville Munson Award, was presented to 1st Lt. Storey Bailes of the 922nd EVCC.

“I could not be prouder of the cohesive team that we were able to build together,” said Bailes. “Being a platoon leader has truly been the most rewarding job throughout my military career thus far.”

The Munson award is given annually to honor an engineer lieutenant or warrant officer platoon leader in the Active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserves in recognition of outstanding contributions to military engineering by demonstrated technical skills and leadership ability.

Bailes continued to say that the teamwork mentality of her fellow Soldiers was on full display during a one-of-a-kind Annual Training Project at the Vermilion Parish Fire Tower. “The platoon executed their mission seamlessly,” said Bailes. “I am incredibly honored to receive the 1LT Munson award and proud to represent the Castle Brigade and the Louisiana National Guard … Essayons!”

The National Guard represents nearly half of the United States Army Engineer Regiment’s 90,000 personnel, according to the Military Engineering Centre of Excellence.


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