ADT 5 Soldier completes 100th mission overseas

Story by 1st Lt. Dwight Bushong and Sgt. Jamie Pungirum, ADT 5

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Col. Bob Hayter, left, commander of Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 5 congratulates Sgt. Zachary Leidecker at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, following the completion of Leidecker’s 100th combat mission in country, July, 2013. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Jamie Pungirum)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan — It was a day like every other, with the blazing sun searing down on the arid earth below causing temperatures to soar to one hundred and eight degrees. For Sgt. Zackery Leidecker of Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 5, the day marked a great accomplishment and success for not only him, but for the entire team.

On this day, Leidecker was the first member of the ADT 5 to complete his 100th combat patrol in Kandahar Province of Southern Afghanistan. The unit as a whole conducted more than 190 missions while in the country.

Leidecker served in multiple positions during his tour of duty that included truck commander, gunner, dismount security, and personal security detachments.

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Sgt. Zachary Leidecker with Agribusiness Development Team 5 pauses behind his vehicle prior to a mission in the Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, July, 2013. Leidecker participated in more than half the unit’s combat mission while deployed, serving as driver, gunner and security. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Jamie Pungirum)

“As the platoon leader, I cannot be more proud of his accomplishments while on the team,” said 1st Lt. Dwight Bushong. “He is a Soldier that is always taking the first step forward to get the mission accomplished, no matter the task.”

To see more photos from this story, click here.

“In my eyes as an Army officer and a leader of Soldiers, I see a bright future for this young non-commissioned officer,” said Bushong. “I look forward to seeing his continued success in the Kentucky Army National Guard. I would gladly have him as part of my combat team any day.”

When asked about how he feels about this day, Leidecker replied humbly, “I feel very accomplished, but there is no way I could have done this alone.”

This is not Leidecker’s first combat tour on foreign lands where he was part of great things. According to him, on his last deployment to Iraq with the 2113th Transportation Company, his truck crew completed the most missions in the unit. When inquired as to what his favorite position to work in was, he stated simply, “I have no preference on what I do on mission, as long as I can be a part of the mission, I’m happy.”

“He has played a vital role as a gunner. Ninety percent of the time he was the gunner of the lead truck, always ready and on his toes for whatever may come,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Harris, Leidecker’s platoon sergeant.

As the lead truck gunner, it is Leidecker’s eyes that were the first to spot anything the convoy may have came across. He was constantly on the lookout for potential threats including improvised explosive devices, complex ambushes, or just the ever constant jumble of traffic in downtown Kandahar City.

However, Leidecker’s real potential seems to become more obvious after speaking with Pvt. John Amis. The young Soldier is first to acknowledge Leidecker’s willingness to step up as a mentor and teacher.

“He is a great example for us lower enlisted,” said Amis. “He shows if you put the time and effort in something you will be rewarded. More importantly for most of us, he has taught us our job from the ground up.”

“When I came to the team, I really didn’t know what it was going to be like being a gunner on combat patrols. With his guidance and leadership, it has made me a better gunner and a better Soldier.”

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