By Jon Connor, ASC Public AffairsApril 17, 2012
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- What he'll always remember are the sand, extreme heat and ongoing incoming rocket and mortar enemy fire.
For Spc. Kris Covault, it's good to be back home.
Covault of Moline and eight others from the Army Sustainment Command-Army Reserve Element were honored April 15 for their deployments in an early morning ceremony inside Rock Island Arsenal's Heritage Hall.
Threatening weather forecasts forced leadership to move the ceremony inside.
"It is an honor to receive an award for taking care of the country," Covault said in a post-ceremony interview with media. His deployment lasted about a year with some time served in Iraq and the majority in Kuwait. While overseas, Covault served as the driver for the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade commander in Iraq and worked in the Support Operations Office during a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily shift while in Kuwait after the unit moved there in the fall of 2011.
Covault actually came home in October but was honored along with his comrades in a special ceremony before the unit's change of command ceremony that saw Col. Vincent Barker take over from Col. Vicki Baxter, who has commanded since 2008.
Identified as Warrior-Citizen Soldiers, Col. Kelly Peters, commander, Army Reserve Sustainment Command, told the logisticians that they should be feeling a "sense of pride" for their deployment. Peters added that their employers, families, and nation were all proud of them.
Peters said that less than 1 percent of the U.S. population serves in the military today. Hence, being able to wear the uniform is always something to be proud of, she said.
"Our Vietnam colleagues did not experience that," she said, of strangers coming up to Soldiers thanking them for their service. "So be proud of that. Be proud of being a Soldier."
Peters, who deployed during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, said she too understood what it was like to serve in a combat zone and then come back to acclimate to one's life.
"Enjoy the reprieve. Being overseas is very intense," she said, citing the intensity, anxiety and danger of deployment.
Peters concluded by telling those honored to get help if they need it, and to look out for each other.
"Do not let yourselves go below the water line," she said. "One team, one fight."
Spouses of the returned Soldiers were also honored.
Covault, a father of four children, three of which are adults, said this was not his first deployment. In fact two of his children serve in the National Guard and Army Reserve.
In his younger days Covault was in the Navy as a boiler technician, took a 13-year break in service, and now has seven years with the Army Reserve. While in the Navy, Covault said he was out to sea for up to 18 months sailing to South America and Africa.
Deployed Reserve Soldiers honored were: Sgt. Nora Burden, Staff Sgt. Gwendolyn Hodges, Lt. Col. Donald Joyner, Staff Sgt. Cornelius Green, Capt. Christopher Hoover, and Covault.
They received the Warrior-Citizen Award coin, a certificate, an encased American flag, a "Welcome Warrior-Citizen" flag, a Warrior-Citizen lapel pin, and a lapel pin presented to the spouses of those Soldiers who deployed for the first time.
Soldiers who have deployed more than once also received a letter of thanks known as a "One Star Note" from the commanding general of the Army Reserve Sustainment Command and a coin.
Those Soldiers included: Sgt. 1st Class John Wattenberg, Lt. Col. Charles Joines, and Sgt. Maj. Paul Donald.
Although Green and Burden had completed their second deployment and Hodges her third, they were included in the first group of honorees because they hadn't received their Warrior-Citizen Award yet, a unit official explained.