Soldiers from Va. Beach-based 529th CSSB return to Virginia after federal deployment to Kuwait

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group reunite with family and friends April 25, 2015, in Richmond, Virginia, after serving on federal active duty in Kuwait since July 2014.  (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group reunite with family and friends April 25, 2015, in Richmond, Virginia, after serving on federal active duty in Kuwait since July 2014. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The last group of Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group reunited with family, friends and fellow Soldiers in Virginia April 29, 2015, after serving on federal active duty in Kuwait since July 2014. During the deployment they planned and coordinated combat sustainment support for U.S. and coalition forces in Kuwait and the surrounding region to include Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The tremendous amount of growth and change experienced by our battalion and Soldiers was huge,” said Lt. Col. Mike Waterman, commander of the 529th CSSB. “From over quadrupling the size of the battalion to establishing operations in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve to relocating to Camp Buehring, I’m very proud of the dedication and hard work of our Soldiers. They also took the time to improve themselves in many ways – physically, academically, spiritually – and it has been a true privilege and honor to command these Soldiers during this deployment.”

Soldiers from the 529th returned to the United States April 20, and the first groups of almost 70 Soldiers in the unit returned April 25 to airports closest to their home of record after completing reintegration training, medical evaluation and administrative tasks at Fort Hood, Texas, to transition from federal active duty to traditional National Guard status.

Soldiers continued to return home in small groups and with the April 29 return of Waterman and Command Sgt. Major Timothy D. White, the command sergeant major of the 529th, all the Soldiers who recently returned to Fort Hood had returned to Virginia. A formal ceremony recognizing their service will take place in about 90 days. Most of the Soldiers in the unit are from the Hampton Roads area. About 10 Soldiers are from the Richmond area, approximately 10 are from the Southwest Virginia area, and about 5 are from the Northern Virginia area.

The 529th had no Soldiers killed in action or seriously wounded.

The Soldiers began federal active duty June 22, 2014, conducted mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas, and then conducted a transfer of authority ceremony Aug. 11, 2014, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait to assume control of the mission. During their nine months in Kuwait, the 529th adapted to an ever-developing mission set, quadrupled the sustainment capabilities of the battalion and provided ground, sea and air distribution of supplies and equipment, ammunition holding and distribution, maintenance, material handling and supply management by U. S. Army units as well as contracted support.

The 529th CSSB planned and executed more than 300 transportation missions, processed material release orders valued at $450 million and delivered multiple successful airdrop missions including more than 1,000 bundles of humanitarian aid in Iraq. They went from having three subordinate units to nine, and then added five watercraft units for a total of 14 subordinate units serving under them during the deployment. The 529th began their deployment at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, but expanded it to more than 10 locations in five countries, supporting five different operations simultaneously, while moving its headquarters to Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

The 529th was the only combat sustainment support battalion in the Central Command area of operations and supported Operation Spartan Shield, Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Resolute Support and Operation Enduring Freedom. The units within the battalion were located at Camp Arifjan, Camp Buehring, Kuwait Naval Base and Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar and provided support in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.

Missions outside of Kuwait included Operation Inherent Resolve Forward Support Element at Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, Taji and Erbil as well as the first Forward Logistics Element at Al Asad Airbase. Over-the-horizon support was provided in support of Operation Resolute Support as the battalion provided material handling and vehicle driver support in Afghanistan.

The Fort Riley-based 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion assumed control of the 529th’s mission at a transfer of authority ceremony held April 14 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

“I am aware that nothing can get done without the Soldiers who make it all happen,” Waterman said at the transfer of authority ceremony. “To the truck drivers that ran convoys every day, to the mechanics who labored in the heat and cold to keep things running, to the Soldier-Mariners who spend weeks at a time at sea, to the riggers who jump up and make it happen with no notice, and to the quartermasters who are training for a larger mission- words can never describe the level of gratitude I have for each of you.”

The battalion last mobilized for federal active duty from May 2010 to March 2011. The 529th deployed to Afghanistan from Fort Hood in May 2010 and operated from the remote forward operating base at Shindand Air Base, Regional Command – West in Afghanistan where they pioneered logistical support operations as the first U.S. combat support battalion to locate in the area and conduct operations. The battalion was responsible for building an expeditionary life support complex and infrastructure for the entire airbase while providing seamless sustainment operations for supported units as well as helping improve quality of life and promoting economic development in local Afghan communities.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 15,000 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized on federal active duty for homeland security missions and com bat operations, sustainment support and peacekeeping in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and other locations around the world.

Photos of Soldiers returning home on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157651758848349/