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Camden native receives top USACE engineering honor

Posted: April 10, 2017 6:32 p.m.
Updated: April 11, 2017 1:00 a.m.
U.S. Army photo by Mike A. Glash/

Camden native Maj. Jennifer Etters, operations officer, USACE-TAA, receives the U.S. Army Engineer Association’s de Fleury Medal from Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite (left), chief of Army engineers and commander, USACE headquarters; and Col. Jon Chytka, commander USACE-TAA, during a ceremony on Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on April 7. The de Fleury Medal is one of the highest honors awarded by the USACE, representing long-term contributions to the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment.

Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan -- A Camden native currently deployed to Afghanistan received one of the highest honors bestowed within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at a ceremony on Bagram Airfield on April 7.

According to a USACE press release, Maj. Jennifer Etters, who serves as the operations officer responsible for intelligence updates and protecting all the personnel for the USACE Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA), was presented with the Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal by Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, USACE commander and the Chief of Engineers.

“I was extremely surprised to learn I was being recognized with such a distinct honor,” Etters said. “The de Fleury medal means a great deal to the Army enlisted and officers, so I was honored to become part of the group of great engineers and supporters of the Engineer Regiment before me.” 

The de Fleury medal is named for French engineer Francois Louis Tesseidre de Fleury, who volunteered to serve with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. At the Battle of Stony Point, N.Y, in 1779, de Fleury was in command of a battalion of the 1st Regiment of the Corps of Light Infantry. He led an American charge up a rocky slope to retake the outpost on the point. The first over the wall, de Fleury rushed to flag pole, cutting the British colors from their staff, turning the tide of the battle. For his actions, the Continental Congress awarded a medal struck in de Fleury's honor. It is believed that the de Fleury Medal was the first Congressional Medal produced. 

“This is really an honor that goes to every soldier and civilian I have served with,” Etters said. “I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to serve our country alongside great Americans working to assist the Afghanistan people in rebuilding and developing their country.” 

This is the fourth deployment to a combat zone for the 1997 graduate of North Central High School in Kershaw County. Etters previously deployed to Iraq twice, and has one other deployment to Afghanistan to her credit. Her commander said Etters’ 16-year Army career embodies what the de Fleury symbolizes; a lifetime of service and significant contributions to the Engineer Regiment.

“Maj. Etters has demonstrated a high-degree of confidence, strong devotion to duty and country, and a keen interest in developing her subordinates that have clearly set the standard for her peers and subordinates to emulate,” said Col. Jon Chytka, USACE-TAA commander. 

Etters will redeploy next month and return to USACE headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she will be working for Lt. Gen. Semonite. 

“Sometimes in Afghanistan nothing is easy, nothing gets done on time and nothing happens the way you think it is going to happen. You can’t find a harder place to make things happen. Someone has to step up and slash through the BS and be able to accomplish the mission. Jen has been one of the great leaders to help cut through the BS to make TAA what it is today, one of our best engineer districts and an outstanding organization,” Semonite said. “I thank Jen for her aggressive leadership of continuing to try and take care of our people, while at the same time accomplishing the mission.” 

There are four levels of the de Fleury Medal: steel, bronze, silver and gold. Only one gold medal is awarded each year by the U.S. Army Chief of Engineers. 

USACE-TAA plans and executes a $1.2 billion construction program to support U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces, and the Afghanistan people.

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