CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-West, Iraq - First Sgt. Keith Edwards from the 51st Transportation Company, 30th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, was awarded the Honorable Order of Saint Christopher medallion in front of his transportation company's headquarters here April 27.

"I spoke with 1st Sgt. Edwards before this ceremony and he didn't tell me what he had done, he told me what his company had done," said Brig. Gen. Michael J. Lally, commanding general, 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) who traveled from Joint Base Balad and presented the award. "People like Edwards take pride in what their units have done, and that's why they're great leaders."

The award was bittersweet for the outgoing first sergeant, who was leaving for the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy after three years with the 51st Trans. Co.

But Edwards, a Grenada, Miss., native, said he was proud to be recognized.

"It was an honor," said Edwards. He said being nominated for the award "shows the confidence that my leaders have in me."

Edwards, who has served in the Transportation Corps since he enlisted straight out of high school in 1984, currently on his third deployment to Iraq, said he joined the Army for new challenges and has never looked back.

"I just wanted to try something different, something new, and challenge myself," Edwards said. "I've never regretted one day of it. I've loved every bit of it since I've been in."

The Army's Chief of Transportation, Brig. Gen. G.S. Harper approved the Military Order of Saint Christopher in July 1998 "to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions to the U.S. Army Transportation Corps."

The "Honorable Order of Saint Christopher" recognizes those individuals who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character; displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence; and served the Transportation Corps with selflessness.

St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers and of the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. The corps established July 31, 1942, dates back to the Revolutionary War, when General George Washington appointed the first wagon master.

Edwards, who has served in Turkey, Japan, Korea, and through several combat tours, had some advice for Soldiers just getting started in transportation.

"A lot of times you will have to make sacrifices, but hang in there and maintain your motivation," Edwards said. "You are Sustaining Soldiers; you are working for a great cause."

The Mannheim, Germany based transportation company provides convoy security and line haul support to bases in Multi-National Division - North.