Guard unit prepares to come home
Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2011
By Spc. Anthony Zane
Special to the News-Herald
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq — With Operation New Dawn nearly complete, the Virginia Army National Guard prepared to leave Iraq, moving out of Contingency Operating Base Adder in its final convoy on Friday.
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“We were a convoy escort team,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond Bunch, convoy commander, Able Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, Virginia Army National Guard, from Scottsville, Va. The 183rd is based in Suffolk.
“We would pick up logistic supplies … and escort them from one base to another to their final destination.”
Soldier’s equipment and vehicles are inspected and ready for the final journey.
Able Troop was getting ready to leave COB Adder and head south across the border into Kuwait, and start turning in its gear for the end of deployment, Bunch said.
The mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles the unit was set to convoy out of the country lined up just outside the soldiers’ living area.
“Our squadron was all housed here,” Bunch said. “Our squadron tactical operation center was right across the road, and the main motor pool was behind there. That’s why we’ve moved all the vehicles over here, to be closer to the containerized housing units and get everything out.”
The unit had been scheduled to leave earlier, but stayed on after being tasked with a few last missions.
“Things got pushed along,” Bunch said. “We ended up having to run a few more missions, and it seems like every time we thought we were running our last mission, they said, ‘We need you to run one more.’ And of course, the needs of the Army come first.”
The convoys throughout the deployment were successful, even though soldiers had to learn new tasks and responsibilities for the mission.
“Able Troop itself is just a conglomeration of where they pulled a whole bunch of people from across the state to make this [mission] come together,” Bunch said. “Military occupational specialties and people that aren’t necessarily used to working together had to come together quick and learn a whole new role than what any of us were trained for, and I think we did an excellent job in doing that.”
Lining up to head to Kuwait was the final mission preparation for Able Troop.
“Today is a culmination of everything we’ve done,” said Cpl. Josh Brainard, vehicle commander, Able Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cav., from Williamsburg, Va. “Now, it’s our final convoy to Kuwait, to leave today.”
But even getting ready to go home has to be approached carefully, Brainard said.
“We have to inspect the vehicles, lay out our medical equipment, our weapons cleaning kits, safety gear, meals-ready-to-eat and water, everything to be inspected for this mission,” he said. “Then get everything strapped down and get ready to go.”
“I’m very, very excited,” Brainard added. “My wife actually had our first child, so I’m really very anxious to get home.
The soldiers hope to be home before the holidays, Bunch said.
“Everybody’s pumped and excited about that because we’re done, we’re getting ready to go home,” he said.