New York National Guard Soldiers Honored for their Service in Iraq

BUFFALO, NY – Soldiers and family members of the New York Army National Guard’s 105th Military Police Company will gather for their unit’s “Freedom Salute” at the National Guard Armory on Connecticut Street this weekend following their return from Iraq.

The ceremony on April 22 at 11 a.m. is the culmination of the unit’s Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, designed to help Soldiers and families deal with returning from overseas deployment.

The unit Freedom Salute ceremony honors the service of the Soldiers, the commitment of the families and the support of the community. Attending the event were:

Spc. Michael Friot from Pulaski, who will receive the Army Commendation Medal for their service in Iraq.

Spc. Eric Shaffer from Phoenix, who will receive the Army Commendation Medal for their service in Iraq.

Background on the 105th Military Police Company:

The 105th Military Police Company, based in Buffalo, was one of the first units of the New York National Guard to deploy to Iraq. The Soldiers participated in the liberation of Iraq in the spring of 2003. The company spent 12 months in combat before returning home.

Five years later, in late 2009, the company was alerted, trained and mobilized to return to Iraq in order to finish the job of transitioning security operations fully to Iraqi forces. The company was led by Capt. John A. VanLaningham and First Sgt. Sheara-Lea J. Snyder.

Due to the timing of the two combat deployments, the Soldiers adopted the unit motto: “FIRST IN, LAST OUT”. Eight Soldiers of the company were present for both deployments and were living proof of the “first in and the last out” dedication of the company.

The 105th Military Police’s mission in Iraq was essential in the stabilization process of Iraq’s Government and Security Forces; with Stability Transition Teams (STT) and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in the Ninawa Province and Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Working side by side with U.S. officer through STT and officials of the U.S. State Department through PRTs, the 105th Military Police Company made a name for itself. The 105th not only ensured the security of all U.S. forces, but all Iraqi counterparts involved in every mission and proved to be pivotal during Operation New Dawn. Over 250 partnered missions were executed throughout their area of operation.

These missions ranged from instructing AK-47 ranges, riot control training, Counter-IED training for the Iraqi Police, and serving as the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) for the entire area. The 105th was instrumental in the security of U.S. military forces during Operation Iron Lion at the Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center for over 3,000 combined personnel.

The 105th MP Company was also responsible for turning in equipment and helping U.S. forces depart Iraq. When all forces were removed from Iraq, the missions entrusted to the 105th Military Police Company clearly defined a mission successfully completed.

The 105th Military Police Company is a unit with a long and distinguished history. Soldiers in the 105th, then an infantry company, served in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the Mexican Border dispute of 1916, World War I, World War II, peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Operation Iraqi Freedom and finally Operation New Dawn.

The unit has earned the Presidential Unit Citation and the Meritorious Unit Citation for their service in these conflicts.

The National Guard Freedom Salute Program:

In December 2003, National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., launched the Freedom Salute Campaign nationwide as a way to recognize members of the Army National Guard for service during Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom and thank their spouses, children, and employers for the support they have shown to their Soldier.

The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. Each eligible Soldier will receive an encased American flag, a lapel insignia, a commemorative coin and a certificate of appreciation from the Army National Guard.

The Soldier’s spouse/significant other will receive a lapel insignia while Soldier who are considered a center of influence with young people will be given a Future Soldier Footlocker Kit that includes the Daring Eagle board game, Mission Command card game, and Army National Guard trading cards.