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155th Armored Brigade Combat Team earns honor before send off

NATCHEZ — The 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team received the official Navy Unit Commendation while in Fort Bliss, Texas, last week.

The award was earned while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2005 and 2006, during which time 16 of 28 soldiers and civilians lost in battle were Mississippi soldiers from the 155th ABCT.

Among those 16 Mississippi soldiers was Sgt. Timothy Osbey of Magnolia, who died Feb. 16, 2005, when the roadway beneath his M-998 HMMWV (Humvee) collapsed while conducting combat operations. The humvee rolled over, resulting in his death.

In attendance for Saturday’s award ceremony were Col. Robert D. Ferguson, commander of the 155th ABCT, and Ray Mabus, the former Mississippi governor, who as Secretary of the Navy approved the award on Jan. 3, 2017.

“You know we lost a lot of soldiers so it was an honor to come back 13 years later and receive this award to put on our colors and streamers,” said Lt. Col. Rodney Bowman, currently the commanding officer of the 2-114th Field Artillery Regiment.

The commendation comes on the heels of the brigade’s upcoming deployment to the Middle East later this month in support of Operation Spartan Shield. In March, the 155th ABCT headed for Fort Bliss, Texas, for training before heading overseas. This will be the brigade’s third deployment to the Middle East since 2001.

Of the 4,200 155th ABCT troops being deployed, about 3,800 are from Mississippi and about 15 are from Natchez. McComb, Frankiln County and Woodville.

Below is a list of the 16 Mississippi 155th ABCT assigned soldiers who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom III in 2005 and 2006.

Sgt. 1st Class Sean M. Cooley, Ocean Springs; Specialist Robert A. McNail, Meridian; Sgt. Joseph A. Rahaim, Laurel;  Sgt. Timothy Osbey, Magnolia; Specialist Robert S. Pugh, Meridian; Sgt. Audrey D. Lunsford, Sardis; Staff Sgt. Saubrant Parker, Foxworth; Specialist Daniel R. Varnado, Sardis; Specialist Bryan E. Barron, Biloxi; Sgt. Larry R. Arnold Sr., Carriere; Specialist Terrance D. Lee Sr., Moss Point;  Staff Sgt. Travis S. Cooper, Macon; 1st Lt. Robert C. Oneto-Sikorski, Bay St. Louis; Sgt. Gregory L. Tull, Pocahontas, Iowa; Major Lowell T. Miller II, Flint Township, Michigan; Staff Sgt. Tommy S. Little, Aliceville, Alabama.