Capt. Jeremy Fiesel, left, of Oregon City, Ore., commander of the 971st Transportation Detachment, receives a welcome-home handshake and coin set from Col. Frederick R. Maiocco, Jr., commander of the 654th Regional Support Group, Tacoma, Wash. The 971st, an Army Reserve unit from Eugene, Ore., returned from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan, Feb. 8. Army photo by Capt. Christopher Larsen, 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command public affairs.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - Twenty-one soldiers of the Eugene, Ore.-based 971st Transportation Detachment, an Army Reserve movement control team called "the best in theater," were welcomed home from a year-long deployment here Feb. 8.

From a forward operating base in Afghanistan, soldiers of the 971st were responsible for the scheduling, planning and tracking of cargo, personnel and convoy movements.

Capt. Jeremy Fiesel, 28, of Oregon City, Ore., the detachment commander, said the unit won its honors after an inspection team from the United States Transportation Command visited aerial and ground ports in Southwest Asia.

Fiesel, who works for Evergreen International Aviation in civilian life, said during its 10 months in Afghanistan, the 971st controlled the movement of 14 million pounds of air cargo, 5,000 trucks and more than 30,000 passengers.

"We were one of two Army units running an airfield in theater," Fiesel said. "That's unusual; normally, it's an Air Force operation."

Col. Frederick R. Maiocco, Jr., is commander of the 654th Regional Support Group, Tacoma., Wash., the 971st's higher headquarters. He said the troops have much of which to be proud.

"Especially, you have grown as a team," Maiocco said. "War can be boring, intense and challenging. You have met that challenge."

Maiocco said the soldiers should not forget the efforts made by their families for the efforts they made during the deployment.

"Thank your families," he said. "Recognize the sacrifices they have made, and make sure you support one another. We want the whole team to go forward."

During the ceremony, each soldier was presented with a 'Welcome Home, Warrior Citizen' award, recognizing their efforts in the Global War on Terrorism. The award consisted of an encased American flag, a commemorative certificate and flag, lapel pin set, and a Warrior-Citizen flag.

Lt. Col. Steven Schneider, commander of the 382nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Seattle, Wash., told the soldiers of the 971st to remember what they accomplished during their time overseas.

"You were the first detachment of this battalion to mobilize and deploy," he said. "You have achieved a level of expertise the Army Reserve has not had since World War II."

Fiesel agreed, noting the awards the detachment's soldiers received during the deployment.

"Everyone received a Meritorious Service Medal or higher," he said. Feisel received the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Afghanistan.

While some soldiers were on their first deployment, Fiesel noted, some had done multiple tours; he himself was on his second, having previously deployed to Iraq in 2005-06.

Staff Sgt. James Corbin, 28, of Eugene, Ore., was another one of the troops who has seen multiple combat tours.

"This was my third," Corbin said. "I did two deployments while stationed in Germany as a combat engineer."

Corbin said he left the Regular Army and entered the Reserve in 2007, a year before getting ready for this deployment. A full-time college student in civilian life, Corbin said he was anxious to get home and resume his studies at Lane Community College in Eugene.

Schneider, the battalion commander, had some parting words for the soldiers as they got ready to leave the Old North Fort Lewis Chapel that night for the trip home.

"Be proud of what you did," he said. "Not everybody gets to do it."

<i>Note: Capt. Christopher Larsen is the public affairs officer for the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Seattle, Wash.</i>

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