By Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public AffairsJanuary 7, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - About 450 Soldiers from the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), started the New Year off in a new place - the combat zone.
The brigade's 180th Transportation Battalion bade farewell to about to two groups of Soldiers Dec. 30 and 31 during ceremonies at the Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center as they deployed to multiple locations through Iraq and Afghanistan.
Soldiers from the 53rd Quartermaster Company deployed on a year-long tour to Afghanistan to provide gun truck security to convoys, said Capt. Kevin Harper, the commander of the 53rd.
Harper said the mission posed a challenge for the Soldiers of the 53rd, many of whom are fuelers.
"[We had to] go from being fuelers, just running fuel, to being transporters; providing convoy security - something we didn't have too much experience on," Harper said.
The Soldiers have been training over the past four months for their new mission, working with units that have done the mission before.
Harper said the most challenging part of the transition was accomplishing normal support missions while trying to conduct training.
"We train as a whole unit, but there were other missions we had to do," Harper said.
Sgt. Jerry Shaw, a fueler with the 53rd, said although he's been on one deployment to Iraq already, this one is different, and not just because it's to Afghanistan.
"I'm a fueler, and we'll be doing different missions this time," Shaw said. "We won't be doing our jobs."
Shaw said the hardest part of the deployment will be leaving his wife and two kids behind so soon. He returned from a tour in Korea about six months ago.
Just as the formal portion of 53rd's deployment ceremony was about to get underway, Lt. Col. Mark Paget, the battalion's commander made an announcement that brought cheers from the gathered Soldiers and families.
"The plane that was supposed to take the 53rd Quartermaster Company to Afghanistan tonight has been delayed for 12 hours," Paget announced.
After a quick accountability and further instructions, the Soldiers were released back to their families to spend one last night at home.
The next morning, Soldiers gathered once again at the gym, and finally departed for Afghanistan that afternoon.
The battalion's 664th Ordnance Company and the 154th Transportation Company deployed for year-long tours in Iraq to provide ammunition and transportation support to units in and around Baghdad as well as southern Iraq.