Freedom Salute honors 1710th Transportation Company Soldiers, family members

Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran presents a Soldier from the 1710th Transportation Company with the Governor's National Service Medal at the unit's Freedom Salute June 8, 2014, in Emporia, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran presents a Soldier from the 1710th Transportation Company with the Governor’s National Service Medal at the unit’s Freedom Salute June 8, 2014, in Emporia, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

EMPORIA, Va. — Family members, friends, civic leaders and Virginia National Guard leaders attended a Freedom Salute ceremony to honor the Virginia National Guard’s Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company June 8, 2014, at the Greensville County High School gymnasium in Emporia. Approximately 150 Soldiers of the 1710th Trans. Co. returned to Virginia Feb. 22, 2014, after conducting transportation support operations in Afghanistan since June 2013. They began serving on federal active duty April 1, 2013.

As part of the Freedom Salute ceremony, the Soldiers received the Virginia Governor’s National Service Medal from Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran on behalf of Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The medal was created in 2005 by then-Governor Mark R. Warner to recognize the service of the men and women of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard called to active federal service since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The award was first presented Nov. 11, 2005 at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.

“It is an honor to be here to present the Governor’s Service Medal,” Moran said. “It’s a small token, but a token nonetheless, of our appreciation and recognition for your service. So on behalf of the governor and eight million grateful Virginians, thank you for everything you do.”

“You’re a unit based out of this great town of Emporia but you are also a reflection of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “You have Soldiers who come from all over the Commonwealth. You’re the face of the Virginia National Guard.”

“It seems like forever ago we stood on that tarmac at Richmond International Airport in April 2013 and bid you farewell,” said Del. Richard Anderson, R-Prince William County, a retired Air Force colonel and co-chairman of the military caucus in the General Assembly. “You deployed to a place where your country needed you most. Thank you so much for serving your country. I may have served three decades in uniform but my 30 years pales in comparison to your one year in Afghanistan.”

Del. Roslyn Tyler, D- Jarratt, presented House Joint Resolution 5066 from the Virginia General Assembly commending the 1710th for its service and performance.

In addition to the Governor’s National Service Medal, Soldiers of the 1710th each received an encased flag and certificate in recognition of their deployment, as well as a set of lapel pins, one in honor of their service and one in recognition and appreciation of spouse’ role in supporting the Soldiers and the Army National Guard.
Soldiers who have deployed more than twice also received a Defender of Freedom Award.

Seventy-four Soldiers from the 1710th also received apprenticeship certificates from Beverly Donati, Apprenticeship Director for the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

The Department of Labor and Industry and the Virginia Guard Manpower and Personnel Office have partnered since 2008 to build a quality apprenticeship program, with curriculum validated by the Virginia Department of Labor. The program assists Soldiers and Airmen in acquiring an apprenticeship certificate upon completing the required work hours for their particular profession. There are various professions under the apprenticeship program, to include truck driving and human resources.

Apprenticeship certificates are recognized by civilian employers as a quality certifiable validation that a Guardsman has sufficient training and skills to be an asset in the specified career field.
“This recognizes in civilian language what you do every day,” Donati explained.

The Freedom Salute recognized not only the Soldiers who deployed, but also the families, employers and organizations that contributed significantly to supporting the unit during its deployment.

“While they were off doing their duty, you did yours,” Williams said to the family members on hand. “I thank you so much for what you did. There cannot be enough said for what it takes to run the homefront. Thank you so much for what you did and what you continue to do to support our Soldiers.”

“We sincerely appreciate your gift to the Commonwealth and that is the precious and irreplaceable gift of sending your loved ones off to serve their country,” Anderson added.

Spouses received certificates for their work with the Family Readiness Group and “Centers of Influence” recognized included the Military Family Support Center in Salem and VFW Post 6364 in Richmond.

During their deployment to Afghanistan, Soldiers from the 1710th Transportation Company drove more than 304,000 miles and conducted 43 sustainment and retrograde missions where they hauled more 3,200 20-foot container units for resupply operations and 100 pieces of rolling stock for transport out of country. During these operations, they maintained a 99% operational readiness rate and received a safety streamer for having no serious accidents. The company’s maintenance performed nearly 800 quality assurance and quality control inspections before each vehicle left on a mission. They also performed 95 repairs and completed 55 annual services.
The company had no Soldiers killed in action or seriously wounded.

Prior to this deployment to Afghanistan, the 1710th Transportation Company served on active duty in Iraq from May 2008 to February 2009.