By Capt. Jerry Garner
524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Army watercraft plays a critical role throughout the world, and Pacific based elements contribute to operations as far away as the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibly including countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

Soldiers from the 545th Transportation Harbormaster Detachment returned to their families and friends here earlier this month, marking the end of a nine-month mission that carried them to Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait.

The detachment primarily provided 24-hour mission command of Army Watercraft involved in intra-theater sealift in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, enabling the delivery of more than 30 million pounds of equipment as it traveled across 90,000 cumulative nautical miles.

"The Soldiers' professionalism and dedication to their craft wrote another chapter in the history of this outstanding company," said Lt. Col. James M. Droppleman, the 524th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion's commander.

The unit supported various aviation, medical evacuation, and Logistics Over the Shore exercises, as well as exercises Deep Blue, SHIELD, and Eager Lion. They also initiated the opening of the UAE Naval Base for operational use by Army watercraft.

During the mission, safety and overall operations depended on the relationship and trust built between the detachment and Kuwaiti port authorities and Kuwait Naval Forces, leaving a lasting impact on the port.

"By establishing close ties to the local ports and local authorities, our Soldiers were able to consistently complete missions on a timely basis with no loss in equipment," said Sgt. 1st Class Sarah Stone, the detachment sergeant with the 545th. "Our Soldiers completed every mission they were assigned and helped backfill vessels when crews were unavailable."

Before releasing the Soldiers to the loving arms of their friends and families, Droppleman said that their courage, character, patriotism and tenacity have once again brought pride to the 524th CSSB, the 45th Sustainment Brigade and the 8th Theater Sustainment Command.