April 21, 2011

529th CSSB Soldiers honored at Norfolk Tides opener

By Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. — The Norfolk Tides honored the Soldiers of the Virginia Beach based- 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at the baseball team’s home opener April 17 at Harbor Park in Norfolk. Nearly 50 Soldiers and their family members were on hand for the game, which featured a 529th CSSB color guard and Maj. Matt Lutz, the 529th executive officer, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. In addition, dozens of photos from the unit’s recent deployment to Afghanistan were shown on the stadium video screen during the seventh inning stretch.

 

Maj. Matt Lutz, executive officer of the 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Norfolk Tides home opener April 17 at Harbor Park in Norfolk. Nearly 50 Soldiers and their family members from the 529th CSSB were on hand for the game as the unit was celebrated for its recent deployment to Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Vrginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

Before the game, Sgt. Jason C. Bell and Spc. Cristal M. Castillo brought the Virginia and United States flags on the field for the national anthem.

Following that, Lutz threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

"Throwing out the first pitch was an awesome feeling,” said Lutz, a Portsmouth resident. “Playing professional baseball was a childhood dream. My second childhood dream was wearing the uniform of the United States Army. Wow, I did both on the same day and was proud to represent the accomplishments of the 529th CSSB Soldiers at the same time.”

“What an honor to perform that symbolic gesture of throwing out the first pitch to start the season for the Norfolk Tides,” Lutz added. “Two greatest reasons to love my country- baseball and the Army. You could not ask for a better life." 

The 529th returned to Virginia over the course of several days from March 21-24 after having served on federal active duty in Afghanistan since May 2010. The 529th  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.

 

Sgt. Jason C. Bell (left) and Spc. Cristal M. Castillo (right) of the 529th CSSB bring the American and Virginia flags on to the field at Harbor Park April 17 before the start of the Norfolk Tides home opener. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Vrginia Guard Public Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

Working directly with Italian, Spanish, Slovenian and Afghan forces, the unit’s mission was to provide supply, maintenance and transportation support to U.S. and coalition warfighters throughout the region that covers the four large western provinces of Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor.

Some of the significant accomplishments of the battalion include:

  • Coordinated the use of Air Weapons Teams, Engineer Route Clearance Packages, and Close-Air Support for the nearly 1,000 convoys conducted by the battalion that covered nearly 500,000 miles traversing western and southern Afghanistan. Established support to 4th Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division and 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division with a transportation platoon at Herat Airfield for daily missions, supported offensive operations in Kandahar Province with Forward Logistics Elements and provided maintenance support at four different bases that included battle-loss/battle-damaged vehicle recovery; mobile refrigeration, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning maintenance; vehicle maintenance; general contracting and test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment.
  • Helped improve quality of life and promoting economic development in local Afghan communities and managed more than $700,000 of Commander’s Emergency Response Program contracts for local infrastructure and humanitarian aid projects including refurbishing an old school; clearing and fixing a permanent underground canal for irrigation; drilling eight wells throughout the surrounding villages; and coordinating volunteers and donations to provide sewing machines to local widows. The battalion also coordinated movement of humanitarian assistance for flood victims in the region in conjunction with Special Forces and was chosen as the first battalion to implement and execute Afghan Transportation Network initiative to influence stability of the local and regional economy.
  • Built an expeditionary life support complex and infrastructure for the entire airbase of more than 2,200 personnel and completed more than 450 base support missions. The battalion provided communication support for the entire base, purified between 45,000 and 60,000 gallons of potable water each day, oversaw the distribution of more than 3 million gallons of JP8 fuel and 20,000 gallons of motor gasoline and maintained 257 tactical vehicles, including 77 armored gun trucks, with a 96% operation readiness rate.
  • Managed more than $24.6 million in contracts for food service, water purification, fuel retail operations, Supply Support Activity, container and cargo management, and transportation operations for Shindand Air Base and managing seven construction projects worth $4.8 million for the expansion of the base’s logistical support capability and quality of life. The battalion oversaw the construction of 112,500-square foot Morale, Welfare and Recreation area that included a weight and cardiovascular facility, theater, Post Exchange, USO and barbershop.

The battalion had no Virginia Soldiers killed in action or wounded in action by hostile enemy action.

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