By Capt. Christopher LarsenApril 21, 2010
TACOMA, Wash. - Family, friends and fellow soldiers gathered at the U.S. Army Reserve Training Center here April 10 to say 'fair winds and following seas' to the 16 members of Detachment 3, 467th Transportation Company, as the unit was called to active duty for service overseas.
"This is a very important day for the unit and all of us," said Lt. Col. Robin Jones, commander of the 385th Transportation Battalion, the 467th's higher headquarters. "This is your last day as citizen-soldiers; tomorrow, you enter active Federal service."
The 16 soldiers make up the crew of a Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) 2000, one of the largest watercraft in the Army inventory. The LCU 2000, 174 feet long and 42 feet wide, has a range of more than 9,000 miles and can carry a payload of 350 short tons. The 467th crew is headed for a year's deployment in Kuwait, where they will haul cargo throughout the theater of operations.
Jones said the crew was ready to serve the active Army.
"We've given them the best training and the best soldiers," he said. "They're ready to go."
The detachment, made up of watercraft engineers and operators, is commanded by Chief Warrant Officer Lawrence L. Claflin, who strongly agreed with Jones' assessment of his team.
"They [the crew] take this really seriously," Claflin said. "These guys are committed to the job."
Claflin, 43, a resident of Gig Harbor, Wash., is a veteran of 26 years service - 22 of them with the 385th. In short, he knows what he's doing; battalion leadership said that was one of the main reasons he was chosen to lead this crew. While Claflin's been on watercraft missions around the world, this will be his first long overseas deployment.
"As a marine deck officer, I want to make sure I have the best crew possible," he said. "These guys come from all over the northwest, some from as far as Portland, Ore. They've worked many years to get to this point, and they're at the top of their game."
Col. Jonathan G. Ives, commander of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in Seattle, thanked the crew's families as he gave it a sendoff.
"You are the ones who are able to support our soldiers," he said. "You provide a foundation for them, something for them to look forward to."
Ives said the Army Reserve soldiers' dedication to their jobs was something to be proud of.
"For nearly 10 years, we've been fighting a war completely with volunteers," he said. "You continue to perform your civilian jobs, while at the same time being ready to support and deploy in defense of our nation."
As the ceremony wound down and the soldiers prepared to head for Fort Dix, N.J., to undergo further pre-deployment training, Ives left them with words familiar to every mariner.
"Godspeed," he said. "Fair winds and following seas."
Capt. Christopher Larsen is the public affairs officer for the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Seattle, Wash.