By Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stowell
204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
Eight Utah National Guard Soldiers, including Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, the adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, received de Fleury awards at a 1457th Engineer Battalion ceremony in Draper, Utah May 22, 2021.
Col. Woodrow Miner, commander of the 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and Lt. Col. Blake Bingham, commander of the 1457th Engineer Battalion, presented the awards to this year’s recipients at the Utah National Guard Headquarters.
“The de Fleury award captures the remarkable contributions you’ve made to the regiment,” Col. Miner said to the awardees. “You’ve cleared paths, solved problems, and ensured unit tempo.”
Staff Sgt. Brad Carr, Staff Sgt. Scott Huish, and Staff Sgt. Kedric Musselman each received the steel de Fleury. Staff Sgt. John Thomas also earned the award but was not present at the ceremony.
Lt. Col. Kevin Leitch, Capt. Nathan Griffin, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Dimond, and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Dwelle were presented the bronze de Fleury. Lt. Col. Andrew Owens and Staff Sgt. Thomas McKenna also earned the bronze award but did not attend the ceremony.
The de Fleury awards honor those who have provided significant contributions to Army engineering.
“I’m impressed with all of the people who have been awarded the de fleury,” said Turley, who spoke to the audience after receiving the Silver de Fleury.
The medal is named for French engineer Francois Louis Tesseidre de Fleury. The Continental Congress appointed him a captain of engineers during the Revolutionary War. Because of his valor, the Congress ordered that a medal be struck in his honor.
“The de Fleury award represents… the strength of character and mode of leadership to which we expect every Soldier in the regiment to aspire,” said Bingham.
Bingham read the inscription on the reverse side of the de Fleury medal to the audience.
“‘Fortifications, marshes, enemies overcome.’ [It reminds] us of our regimental mandate to breach any obstacle, bridge any gap, and pioneer the way forward as we defeat the enemy and overcome the challenges presented to us.”
Typically the de Fleury awards would be presented at a larger event. But this year, because of COVID-related protocols, the event was more intimate and by invitation-only.
This year the highest-ranking Soldier in the Utah National Guard was one of the awardees.
“It’s awesome to be able to present an award to [Maj.] Gen. Turley,” Miner said. “With all his service to the regiment, it’s great to give him the medal that means so much to us engineers. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Before the presentation, Miner joked about why he was qualified to give an award to his superior.
“You might think it’s because I am in command of the best brigade in the Army inventory. That’s true but it’s not the only qualification. A little known fact is that I was a qualified Army engineer officer before General Turley.”
Turley, who briefly commanded the 204th before his assignment to lead the Utah National Guard as adjutant general, replied that he has been in the regiment longer, having commissioned before Miner.
Turley stressed the importance of engineering for today’s Army formations as the global power balance shifts.
“We must get ourselves to a higher level of readiness. I see more of a demand for engineering formations in the near future,” he said.
He also thanked the 204th for responding so well to several challenging missions over the past year, including windstorm clean up and several civil disturbance missions.
“I’m super impressed with where the 204th is and where the 1457th is,” said Turley. “But I’m telling you right now, I’m going to ask for more of you in the future.”
A common refrain throughout the ceremony was “essayons!” The French imperative, “try,” it reminds Soldiers that engineers keep going and solve problems.
Turley concluded on a light-hearted note.
“Woody,” he said (referring to Col. Miner), “I guess I’ll just have to remind myself that you’re senior to me.”
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