A local unit of the Army National Guard receives a special honor. Binghamton's 204th Engineering Battalion has been named Unit of the Year by Salute Magazine. Our Melissa Kakareka tells us why.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- When floodwaters from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee hit several counties across New York State, the Army National Guard's 204th Engineering Battalion was there to help. The unit did everything from helping residents evacuate homes to repairing roads and creeks.
"The 204th Battalion really stepped up, not only in our disaster but the first one that hit in the Hudson Valley and Upstate, the work they did was invaluable," said Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan.
And their efforts haven't gone unnoticed.
The Battalion has been named Unit of the Year by Salute Magazine, a publication that is distributed six times per year to U.S. military installations across the world. The group also earned Unit of the Month in the October/ November 2011 issue. Accomplishments that local officials gathered to celebrate on Friday.
"They play such an important role in helping our community through difficult times and the fact they were acknowledged by Salute makes us feel proud they are a part of our community and that they helped us so much," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo.
Members of the Batallion say they are honored and inspired by the recognition.
"It’s humbling. We don't do the work for awards. Of course, soldiers want to be recognized and we help our men and women in that way, but for the community to come out in this way, we are honored," said Lieutenant Colonel James Freehart.
But say the true honor is something else.
"I recently came back from a deployment in Afghanistan and it’s nice to be able to come back and give something back to local communities. So we really look forward to opportunities to help in great times of need like floods, "said Captain Kevin O'Reilly.
Being able to give back to others who need their help.
Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan also declared Friday "204 Engineering Battalion Day" in the City of Binghamton.