CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers of the Indiana National Guard's 1538th Transportation Company from Elkhart, Ind. recently celebrated the end of their mission here.

The celebration was punctuated with farewell remarks from Col. Mark E. Drake, the 10th Sustainment Brigade commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Allen Fritzsching, the 10th Sustainment Brigade senior enlisted leader.

Drake praised the unit's accomplishments while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"The 1538th has done great work; you've made a name for yourselves and taught me a few things in the process," said Drake. He said as a reminder to the men and women of the 1538th to take care of each other in the coming months, to be safe when they get home, and to take their time reintegrating into family life and everyday activities.

"Things have changed - don't think they haven't. You have changed, your spouse has changed, your children have changed - you cannot come home and take everything over," he said.

As part of redeployment training, the Soldiers have received briefings reiterating this fact, and many of the unit's Soldiers have deployed prior and know first-hand the challenges of reintegration.

"You can't just walk back in like you were never gone," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Miller, a resident of Rome City, Ind. Miller has deployed previously and his wife Allison is also a sergeant in the Indiana National Guard. "I know the kids have changed and she's been in charge," said Miller, echoing Drake's guidance to the Soldiers.

Drake and Fritzsching both spoke to the troops and presented the unit with a snowshoe-shaped plaque, commemorating their part in 10th Sustainment Brigade history. The snowshoe represents the brigade's lineage as a former part of the 10th Mountain Division of World War II fame and the 10th Sustainment Brigade's first operational deployment in Iraq.

"We've had a unique part of history here with the Army's transformation," said, Capt. Phillip C. Anderson of Plainfield, Ind., and commander of the 1538th Trans. Co. "We've been a part of the 10th Sustainment's history, the 38th Infantry Division's history, and the first unit to wear the new patch of the 38th Sustainment Brigade," said Anderson.

The unit ended their day with a barbecue and games, to include the corn-bag toss game, a past time favorite.

Cpl. John St. Germain, from Elkhart, said, "This has been a really great evening, everyone getting together like this."

Spc. Nathaniel Weyrick, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with the unit from Falconer, N.Y., unveiled a song, "We're the 1538th" he wrote and recorded for the unit. The song had elements of the Soldier's Creed and esprit-de-corps. "It took me 14 hours to record it," said Weyrick about his five-minute composition.

"I was excited when I heard he was working on a unit song," said 1st Lt. G. Elizabeth Brown, an Indianapolis resident and the unit's executive officer. "Not every unit gets to have their own song."

The 1538th Trans. Co. re-deployed to Camp Atterbury, Ind., at the end of June. Aca,!f

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