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Local Guard unit earns rare honor

The 216th Engineer Battalion of the Ohio Army National Guard will receive the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) during its Freedom Salute Campaign celebrations in June.

The MUC is bestowed on units for "exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services for at least six continuous months during the period of military operations against an armed enemy." It is given by the multi-national coalition involved in the war in Iraq.

"This award is a fitting tribute to the great soldiers of the 216th and their incredible accomplishments during Operation Iraqi Freedom," said Maj. Gen. Greg Wayt, adjutant general and commander of the 15,000- person Ohio Army and Air National Guard.

Lt. Col. Scott Evans, commander of the 216th, said his battalion is the first in the Ohio National Guard to receive this honor since World War II.

"The 216th is honored to receive the Meritorious Unit Commendation," Evans said.

"This recognition was made possible through tremendous effort, courage, perseverance and sacrifice."

The 216th was mobilized in January 2004 and supported the First Infantry Division in Iraq. During its deployment, three soldiers were killed in action and 20 earned the Purple Heart for combat wounds.