• Soldiers from the 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, build a wall of duffle bags as they prepare to move from Camp Virginia, Kuwait, to Ali Al Saleem Air Base and then on to Kuwait City where they'll board a plane headed home to Fort Hood, Texas. While at Camp Virginia waiting for their flight date, the 1st ACB node personnel ensure the troopers' paperwork is in order and that they have accountability of all sensitive items. The node personnel also track all flights with 1st ACB Soldiers on them that fly in and out of Kuwait.

    Soldiers from the 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th...

    Soldiers from the 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, build a wall of duffle bags as they prepare to move from Camp Virginia, Kuwait, to Ali Al Saleem Air Base and then on to Kuwait City where...

  • Even though she's carrying her own weight in baggage Brooklyn, N.Y., native Pfc. Milagros Escobar, a fueler for Company E, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, laughs and smiles on her way to bag drop at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Dec. 9, because she's headed home after a 15-month deployment in Iraq. Orlando, Fla., native Staff Sgt. Willie Johnson, a platoon sergeant for Co. E, laughs with her after offering to lend a helping hand. All 1st ACB Soldiers passing through Kuwait to the States get taken care of by the personnel manning the node.

    Even though she's carrying her own weight in...

    Even though she's carrying her own weight in baggage Brooklyn, N.Y., native Pfc. Milagros Escobar, a fueler for Company E, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, laughs and smiles on her way to...

  • Louisville, Miss., native Capt. Adallia Tyler (far left), the deputy S-1 for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, checks in Soldiers from 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. during a manifest call at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Dec. 9. Before the troopers move through Kuwait back to the States, the 1st ACB node has to ensure 100 percent accountability of all sensitive items such as identification cards and weapons.

    Louisville, Miss., native Capt. Adallia Tyler...

    Louisville, Miss., native Capt. Adallia Tyler (far left), the deputy S-1 for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, checks in Soldiers from 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. during a manifest call at...

  • The section leaders for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at the Camp Virginia, Kuwait node discuss operations over a secure telephone Dec. 10 with Traverse City, Mich., native Col. Dan Shanahan, commander of the "Warrior" brigade, in Camp Taji, Iraq. The node is responsible for moving 1st ACB troopers, helicopters and other equipment from Iraq back to the States via Kuwait. From left to right: Littleton, N.C., native Maj. Fred West, the brigade fire support officer; Little Valley, N.Y., native Chief Warrant Officer Scott Hahn, the brigade mobility warrant officer; Tecumseh, Okla., native Lt. Col. Tom Jessee, the brigade executive officer; Augusta, Ga., native Warrant Officer Kelsey Wilson, the brigade signal systems technician; and Austin, Texas, native Maj. Jacob Freeman, the brigade S-4.

    The section leaders for the 1st Air Cavalry...

    The section leaders for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at the Camp Virginia, Kuwait node discuss operations over a secure telephone Dec. 10 with Traverse City, Mich., native Col. Dan Shanahan, commander of the "Warrior" brigade, in...

  • Waynesville, Mo., native Spc. Michael McGrath, an aviation operations specialist  for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, tracks the movement of Soldiers and equipment at the node in Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Dec. 8. The node is responsible for moving 1st ACB troopers from Iraq back to the States via Kuwait. They also coordinate for helicopters and other equipment to get sent back home, said McGrath who works as the battle noncommissioned officer in the node.

    Waynesville, Mo., native Spc. Michael McGrath...

    Waynesville, Mo., native Spc. Michael McGrath, an aviation operations specialist for the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, tracks the movement of Soldiers and equipment at the node in Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Dec. 8. The node is responsible...

CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait - It isn't a complex or long word, but it has a lot to do with getting Soldiers and their equipment home - especially after a 15-month deployment.

It's called a node.

And the Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry "Warrior" Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division are headed home little by little because of the operations taking place at the 1st ACB node in Camp Virginia, Kuwait, said Waynesville, Mo., native Spc. Michael McGrath, an aviation operations specialist for the 1st ACB.

These specialized groups of Warriors have been placed all across Kuwait to make sure this task is accomplished efficiently and effectively, said McGrath, who is also the battle noncommissioned officer for the Camp Virginia node.

There's a node where helicopters fly in, get cleaned and prepped for customs inspections.

There's a node that processes troopers who fly in to Kuwait from Iraq and when they depart from Kuwait to the States.

There's a node where vehicles are sent via truck from Iraq to be washed and customs inspected.

There's a node where all ground equipment and helos are prepped for loading onto ships for their voyage back to the States, said McGrath.

The node in Camp Virginia monitors and runs all these nodes and is the primary hub from which passengers are scheduled to catch a flight home, he said.

These nodes are helping Soldiers transition smoothly between Iraq and the United States, said St. Louis native Spc. Brook Taylor, a construction equipment mechanic for Company E, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div.

"This is my second time being deployed; this time went a whole lot smoother than four years ago," he said.

After a small journey from Iraq to the Camp Virginia node the Soldiers wait ... and wait, said Taylor.

"There's always the inevitable hurry up and wait," said Taylor.

McGrath shares this sentiment.

"It's a waiting game. Whenever a plane shows up is when you're going home," he said.

He explains that there are a myriad of reason for flights to be delayed or for one group of Soldiers to be pushed back on to a different flight - reasons families can't see.

"If you were here to see all that happens, then you'd understand," said McGrath.

During this entire journey the personnel at the Virginia node have tracked and accounted every single Soldier till they arrive at their doorstep in Fort Hood.

At Camp Virginia they are given temporary housing and wait for their scheduled flight to make it in to Kuwait City International Airport, he said.

"Everything is subject to change," McGrath said with a slight laugh. "But we constantly [communicate] with the node at Ali Al Saleem [Air Base] to streamline passengers moving out ... and to track the flights."

After about three days, give or take due to numerous factors, the Soldiers pack up their gear and head back out to the node where they'll go through customs, McGrath said.

Once the troopers make it through the meticulous customs search, where they have to dump all their contents in all their bags out onto a table to be looked at, they then sit and wait for the bus ride to the airport, McGrath said.

When the bus takes them out to their plane, there's no more waiting; they load up and take off headed towards home, said McGrath.

And that's just the Soldiers. What about their equipment and personal items they couldn't carry with them'

That stuff was inspected, packed, locked up in large shipping containers and driven from Iraq all the way down to a port along the Persian Gulf, said Little Valley, N.Y., native Chief Warrant Officer Scott Hahn, the mobility warrant officer for 1st ACB.

Once it reaches the sea port of embarkation it will be loaded up onto ships ready to sail back to the United States, he said.

The equipment and most of the aircraft will make it back to the States well after the Soldiers' return, said Hahn.

Some aircraft, after being taken apart, cleaned, and then inspected, weren't flown down to the port to be loaded onto a ship. Instead, they were loaded up into Air Force C-5 cargo planes and flown home for reset - a sort of aircraft overhaul, Hahn said.

It may seem like a long and complicated journey for Soldiers and their equipment to head back to the United States, but the Camp Virginia node is working hard to accomplish the mission.

More importantly the node is working fervently to get 1st ACB Soldiers back into the arms of their loved ones as soon as possible.

That's one aspect of this mission not subject to change.

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