FORT EUSTIS, Va. (May 20, 2009) -- The Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command welcomed two units into its family in a patch changing ceremony Friday at the command's Fort Eustis facility, Bldg. 661.

The ceremony signified the transfer of authority of the 688th and 689th Rapid Port Opening Elements from the 7th Sustainment Brigade to the 597th Transportation Terminal Group.
Maj. Gen. James L. Hodge, SDDC commander, hosted the ceremony welcoming the two units into SDDC's fold. He spotlighted the history of the Army's patches, which date back to World War I, stating that each shoulder sleeve insignia is crafted with symbolism alluding to each unit's formation.

Hodge told the units' Soldiers that he knows how proud they've been to wear the 7th Sust. Bde. patch as well as the tradition it signifies.

"I hope that you are equally proud to wear the SDDC patch, demonstrating to all at a glance that you are committed, dependable and relentless," said Hodge.

"Part of SDDC's vision and focus for the future is for SDDC to become the operational deployment and distribution champion. This patch changing ceremony is part of the realization of that vision. I take seriously SDDC's new responsibility for the readiness, manning and equipping of your fine units," he added.

The 688th and 689th are the first Army active-duty units created specifically to provide surface transportation expertise for Joint Task Force- Port Opening. The 816th, 817th and 818th Contingency Response Groups, assigned to the 621st Contingency Response Wing, make up the other half of the JTF-PO.

As an interim measure, a provisional reserve unit was formed to meet immediate requirements. The reserve unit was designated as the Transportation Port Opening Element and assigned to SDDC's 597th TTG at Eustis since June 14, 2006, but was located at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

The TPOE was inactivated July 1, 2008, and the 688th assumed its current mission. In October 2008 the 689th stood up, and both RPOEs now serve as part of the U.S. Transportation Command's JTF-PO.

On order, the RPOEs will deploy with a U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command CRG Air Element as a joint expeditionary logistics force to establish an aerial port of debarkation, forward distribution node, in-transit visibility, and conduct clearance and distribution operations.

The RPOEs receive and transload cargo as an initial entry port opening force until relieved by or integrated into follow-on sustainment forces.

"Following a certification exercise the week of May 18, we will have our first RPOE validated and trained to support JTF-PO seaport operations," said Col. Craig Hymes, 597th Transportation Terminal Group commander.

"Command Sgt. Major Offord and I are pleased to have both the 688th and 689th RPOEs join the 597th team," he added.

The 597th TTG has been located at Fort Eustis since July 2005. Prior to relocating to Eustis, the 597th was located on the west bank of the Cape Fear River at the Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point in Southport, N.C.

Today, the Group provides command and control for the 832nd Transportation Battalion in Jacksonville, Fla.; the 833rd Trans. Bn. in Seattle; the 841st Trans. Bn. in Charleston, S.C.; and the 842nd Trans. Bn. in Beaumont, Texas, that ensure SDDC's vital mission is accomplished.

"You can count on team 'Movers' to continue to provide the warfighter with world-class strategic surface deployment and redeployment through United States' ports," said Hymes.

"I am proud to have the 688th and 689th wear the SDDC patch sharing our mission as global surface transportation experts," he added.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16