Governor recognizes 529th CSSB at Freedom Salute

Governor Terry McAuliffe presents the Governor's National Service Medal to Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard's Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group July 12, 2015, in Virginia Beach, Va.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Governor Terry McAuliffe presents the Governor’s National Service Medal to Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group July 12, 2015, in Virginia Beach, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe presented the Governor’s National Service Medal to Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group July 12, 2015, in Virginia Beach, Va. The presentations were part of a Freedom Salute honoring the unit’s federal active duty service in Kuwait and Iraq from July 2014 to April 2015. During the deployment the 529th planned and coordinated combat sustainment support for U.S. and coalition forces in Kuwait and the surrounding region to include Afghanistan and Iraq. Leaders also uncased the battalion colors and Headquarters Company guidon to officially recognize their return to duty in Virginia.

“I wanted to be here today to thank the 529th for the magnificent work that you did for our nation,” McAuliffe said. “You continue to make all of us here in the commonwealth very proud.”

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. Soldiers from the 529th operated in a forward support element in Iraq that was responsible for the sustainment support that got critical supplies to U. S. and coalition forces conducting combat operations against ISIL as well as advise and assist missions in the region.

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Adam Thiel, State Senator John Cosgrove, Brig. Gen. Blake C. Ortner, Deputy Commander of the 29th Infantry Division, and Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, Assistant Adjutant General – Army, all joined McAuliffe in thanking Soldiers for the service and recognizing families, employers and communities for their support of the 529th’s mission.

“Today we also need to give a special thanks to the employers and communities who support our Soldiers during their deployment, and most importantly we need to recognize the dedicated families. Without their support, we couldn’t accomplish our mission,” Williams said. “We know it is hard to keep the home fires burning while your loved ones are serving in a far away place, but through your courage and resilience, you provide the support that means our men and women in uniform are able to defend the ideals of freedom and keep our nation strong.”

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.

“When I commanded the 329th Regional Support Group, the 529th was one of my units and I saw first hand how the highly experienced officer and NCO leaders and hard working Soldiers of the battalion helped build the organization and shape it into the highly effective sustainment unit it is today,” Williams said. “The flow of supplies through Kuwait became critical to the success of the warfight, and the Soldiers of the 529th were right there in the middle of it and making it happen,” Williams said. “Their days were long and hard, but each day they were making a significant impact of the success of missions that were part of the critical effort to maintain stability in region. Each Soldier of the 529th should hold their heads high knowing what you accomplished, and the rest of us should feel a great sense of pride knowing what a vital role they played.”

Lt. Col. Mike Waterman, commander of the 529th, said that change was the overall theme for the unit’s deployment, and the change was both for the unit and as individual Soldiers.

“We were exposed to aspects of the mission that were new to all of us, from the wide variety of units who performed in the air, the ground and the sea, and growing the battalion to more than 1,000 troops,” he said. “These Soldiers excelled every time, and I couldn’t be prouder to be called their commander.”

Waterman thanked the leadership of the 329th RSG as well as at the state level for their support, and he extended a special thanks to the friends, families and supports of the 529th.

“Thank you for being there every step of the way,” he said. “The challenge to be at home and manage the kids, work and daily life without your spouse, your child, your father or mother is no less challenging than living and working in the desert every single day. Words alone cannot express my thanks enough.”

McAuliffe presented the Virginia Army National Guard Commendation Medal to Melanie Ellyson for her work as the 529th’s Family Readiness Group leader during the deployment.

The Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band provided ceremonial music for the event.

The Virginia Governor’s National Service 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 September 11, 2001. The award was first presented Nov. 11, 2005, at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.

Additional background information on the 529th CSSB:

The 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion was formed in December 2006, and the battalion headquarters deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and Kuwait in 2014.

While home in Virginia, the 529th has command and control of the Emporia-based 1710th Transportation Company, the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company and the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company.

The 529th CSSB was one of eight units recognized as a Distinguished Unit of the Regiment during the Quartermaster Regimental Honors and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony June 5, 2015, at Fort Lee, Va. The Distinguished Unit of the Regiment award was introduced in 1993 to recognize outstanding units, past and present, who have made a significant contributions to the Quartermaster Corps.

In September 2013, the 529th received the Reckord Trophy for training excellence. The National Guard Association of the United States presents the Reckord Trophy each year to the Army National Guard battalion that achieves the highest state of readiness in the country. To receive the award, the battalion must have demonstrated superior performance in the areas of personnel strength, retention, duty MOS qualification, individual and crew served weapons qualification, the Army Physical Fitness Test, drill weekend attendance and annual training attendance. The battalion, along with its organic units, must have demonstrated a commitment to the welfare of its members and their families and to its communities during the training year for which being nominated.

While deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, the 529th provided command and control for more than 500 Soldiers from three active duty units to accomplish their mission: the 104th Transportation Company from Fort Benning, the 183rd Maintenance Company from Fort Carson and the 226th Quartermaster Platoon from Fort Stewart.

The unit also worked directly with Italian, Spanish, Slovenian and Afghan forces. In preparing for their mobilization to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 529th CSSB completed a staff exercise at Camp Dodge, Iowa, and pre-mobilization training at Fort Pickett. The final preparation for their deployment was their mobilization to Fort Hood. In May 2010, the 529th deployed to Afghanistan and operated from the remote forward operating base at Shindand Air Base, located in the deserts of Western Afghanistan.

While in Afghanistan, the 529th mission was to provide supply, maintenance and transportation support to U.S. and coalition war-fighters throughout the region that covered four large western provinces of Afghanistan. The battalion was also responsible for building an expeditionary life support complex and infrastructure for the entire air base while simultaneously providing seamless sustainment operations for supported units. In addition, they helped to improve quality of life and promote economic development in local Afghan communities. The 529th CSSB is credited as the first-ever U.S. combat support battalion to locate in that particular area of Western Afghanistan and conduct logistical support operations.

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529th CSSB recognized as a Distinguished Unit of the Regiment
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2015/06/09/7608/

Soldiers from Va. Beach-based 529th CSSB return to Virginia after federal deployment to Kuwait
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2015/04/30/7357/

Va. Beach-based 529th CSSB receives national training award
http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2013/09/30/4503/

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