September 26, 2007 Edition

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875th Engineer Battalion
returns from Iraq

After chalking up some very impressive stats in Iraq over the past year, over 400 Soldiers with Arkansas' 875th Engineer Battalion have returned home to the United States.

The unit, which includes several Lawrence County residents, returned in two waves over the weekend. The first group of approximately 240 soldiers landed at the Wisconsin Air National Guard's Volk Field early Saturday morning. The final wave of troops touched down around 3:30 a.m. on Monday.

With the deployment, the battalion took on the responsibility of the continuous clearing of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from the Iraqi roadways. This included 300 kilometers of one of the most dangerous supply routes in central Iraq.

Soldiers in the unit encountered 1500 IEDs and 1244 of those were cleared without incident.

"The rest found us, unfortunately, before we could find them, but it resulted in a phenomenal safety record of just a minimal number of casualties based on the number of explosives and IEDs that were out there," Col. Patricia Anslow, commander of the 875th, said.

The battalion suffered one fatality during the deployment with the loss of Sgt. Erich Smallwood of Trumann. He was killed in action on Memorial Day weekend of this year.

"When we lost Erich, it was a terrible day ... a day we'll never forget," Anslow said. "But we always continued on the mission in his honor and to the honor of [all of our] soldiers who were evacuated from theater."

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