opinions
UPDATE -

While representing McGraw-Hill Construction at a ceremony at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on April 22 to honor 96 graduating cadets joining the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment, ENR Associate Editor Tom Sawyer was amazed to be called forward and presented with a medal by Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, the chief of engineers. Sawyer was presented with the Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal in recognition of his "superb support" for the engineer soldiers.

Sawyer was an embedded reporter with Army’s combat engineers in the spring of 2003 during the invasion of Iraq, and he returned eight months later to rejoin them north of Baghdad for a follow-up. He filed stories and photos frequently from the field and continues to help ENR cover the story of Iraq’s reconstruction. He has given numerous presentations to groups back home on the wartime service of the engineers.

"Our job is to give readers information they can use in their work. With so many engineers called up out of firms around the country, we thought the story of combat engineers and the Corps was a compelling one," Sawyer says.

The de Fleury medal, awarded in bronze, silver and gold, is the Army engineers’ highest award. It dates from the American Revolution and was the first congressional medal struck. It is named for Francois Louis Tesseidre de Fleury, a French engineer who fought with an elite corps of 1,300 soldiers commanded by Gen. Anthony Wayne in the midnight storming and capture of a fortress on the Hudson River at Stony Point, N.Y., on July 15, 1779. In the midst of the bitter, hand-to-hand fight, de Fleury made his way to the flagstaff and hauled down the British colors, leading to the collapse of enemy morale, their surrender and an end to the fighting. An account of the action is posted at http://www.wood.army.mil/museum/history/en_defl.htm.

The awarding of the de Fleury Medal was revived in 1989 to recognize significant contributions to Army engineering by soldiers and civilians. The program is administered "by engineers, for engineers" through the Army Engineer Association at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Sawyer says he is "humbled to be so honored" and grateful to have been given the opportunity to work beside the Army engineers and tell their story. The multi-talented Sawyer covers information technology and organizes ENR’s annual photo contest. He wrote this week’s cover story.