By Emily Howard

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD The sound of flags popping in high winds punctuated a ceremony honoring the 62nd Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy) on Thursday.

A Meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded to the battalion for its accomplishments during its deployment to Iraq last year.

The engineer battalion, part of the 13th Corps Support Command, deployed to Iraq in January 2003 to complete its mission: build an oil pipeline from Kuwait into Iraqi territory to fuel the efforts of American and coalition soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

[The pipeline] was the critical artery that fed fuel to our forces in Iraq, said Maj. Gen. Robert Heine, commander of the 416th Engineer Command, during his speech at the ceremony in Fort Hoods Sadowski Field.

The engineers completed their mission in six months. The pipeline, 224 miles long, is the longest and first fully functional inland petroleum distribution system in military history, according to a Fort Hood news release.

The pipeline pumped 720,000 gallons of fuel daily to forces in Iraq, said Lt. Col. John Boul, commander of the 62nd Engineer Battalion.

They were the first engineer battalion in-country, Boul said.

Two units from out-of-state, the 226th Engineer Company, part of the Kansas National Guard, and the 808th Engineer Company (pipeline), of the Army Reserve, were a part of the battalions historic effort and were on hand for the ceremony. Boul expressed his joy at their attendance and commended their contributions to the mission.

We are truly one army working together to win the war on terror, he said.

The 62nd Engineer Battalion focuses on vertical construction, concrete and masonry work, plumbing and electrical work, leveling and site improvement, combat road and trail construction, maintenance and improvement, and asphalt work.

The Meritorious Unit Commendation is awarded to units for exceptionally meritorious conduct in performance of outstanding services for at least six continuous months during a period of military operations against an armed enemy.

The award was the eighth Meritorious Unit Commendation for the battalion. In its 65 years of service, the 62nd Engineer Battalion has earned 30 campaign streamers and a list of other awards, including two Army Superior Unit Awards.

Contact Emily Howard at ehoward@kdhnews.com

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