July 14 , 2010

Freedom Salute recognizes service in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.—Virginia National Guard Soldiers from three different units gathered alongside family members, loved ones and employers July 11 at the Lexington Hotel, George Washington Inn & Conference Center in Williamsburg to conduct a Freedom Salute in honor of their service in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.


Virginia Guard Soldiers received the Governor's National Service Medal at the Freedom Salute held July 11 in Williamsburg. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The Freedom Salute honored the service of the approximately 40 Soldiers from Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group’s Logistical Military Advisory Teams, the four Soldiers from the 134th Chaplain Support Team and the approximately 17 Soldiers from the Sandston-based Detachment 26, Operations Support Airlift Command.

The Soldiers and families were welcomed home and thanked for their hard work while they were deployed overseas by Marla Decker, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety. She not only recognized the Soldiers, but the family members for their sacrifices.

“Virginia Citizen-Soldiers make us proud every day, whether it's being deployed to far-away lands or whether it's helping in snow storms and natural disasters and situations at home,” said Decker. “We are always proud that our National Guard is here and represents Virginia well. I want to thank all of you today on behalf of the governor and the Office of Public Safety.”

“Thank you all because while your loved one, whether it be dad, mom, sister, brother, employee, while they're away, you're here, you're thinking about them, and you're without them.”

The Freedom Salute is just one step of the reintegration process Soldiers returning from overseas go through as part of the Army’s Yellow Ribbon Campaign.

“These reintegrations are very, very important us, because this is our time, on our nickel I'll call it, that we can bring the families together,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Huxtable, Assistant Adjutant General for Army. “You can have some time with the leadership of the Virginia National Guard, get some time with other agencies, other organizations, so you can get yourself reintegrated back in your day-to-day lives because we realize for the last year, we've kind of disrupted that.”

The LMATs returned to Virginia in March 2010 after serving in Iraq since June 2009 where they provided training oversight of Iraqi military schools and logistical advice to several Iraq Army Location Commands.

The 134th CST mobilized in March 2009 and returned in May 2010. While mobilized the Soldiers operated throughout Afghanistan and Kuwait, and they were the first chaplain support team to ever mobilize from the Virginia National Guard. The team provided a wide array of chaplain support services including counseling, worship services and Bible studies.

The Soldiers of Detachment 26, OSACOM mobilized early in 2009 for duty in Afghanistan and returned to Virginia in March 2010. The detachment conducted around the clock operations by providing pilots and systems operators for aerial reconnaissance used for analyzing and disseminating real-time battlefield intelligence and targeting information to ground commanders and other organizations throughout Afghanistan.

The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history, designed to publicly acknowledge Army Guard Soldiers and those who supported them during the President's call to duty for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

The Freedom Salute recognizes the Soldiers, their families, employers and organizations that contributed significantly to supporting the unit during its deployment.
As part of the Freedom Salute campaign, each Soldier receives an American flag in a wood display case, a Defender of Freedom certificate as well as commemorative coins and medallions.

Background information on the Logistical Military Advisory Teams:

In August 2008, the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group was tasked to provide four teams of 10 Soldiers each to provide logistical advice to the Iraqi Army and these teams were designated as Logistical Military Advisory Teams. The teams were built with Soldiers from across the state including Richmond, Petersburg, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

The Soldiers of the LMAT operated throughout nearly the entire country of Iraq from Baghdad, Besmaya, Shaibah, An Numaniyah, Taji, Habbaniyah, Ramadi, Al Kasik and Kirkush, and the LMATs provided training oversight of schools and logistical advice to several Iraq Army Location Commands.

The Virginia personnel worked for Multinational Security Transition Command–Iraq and Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission – Army and several of the senior leaders of the Virginia Guard LMAT held critical staff positions on the ITAM-Army staff and various Iraqi Army Schools as Senior Advisors.

The LMATs advised the Transportation School, Administrative Affairs Schools, Maintenance School, Sergeant Majors Academy, Training Center – Tallil, Training Center – Al Kasik and Besmaya Combat Training Center.

The LMATs assisted the Iraqi government in the development, organization, training, equipping, and sustaining of Iraqi Security Forces and Ministries to defeat terrorism and provide a stable environment in which representative government, individual freedom, the rule of law, and the free market economy can evolve and which, in time, will contribute to Iraq’s external security and the security of the Gulf Region.

Background information on the 134th Chaplain Support Team:

The 134th Chaplain Support Team of the Virginia Army National Guard was comprised of Lt. Col. David P. Gilleran of Martinsville, Capt. Carl Hagwood of Martinsville, Sgt. 1st Class Bum Kim of Annandale and Spec. Lennie Dunlop of Gate City.

Hagwood and Dunlop were at the Kuwaiti Naval Base and Gilleran and Kim were assigned to the 1st Theater Sustainment Command as the senior Unit Ministry Team Forward. Besides the day to day ministry at the 1st TSC, Gilleran and Kim supervised 42 UMT from Sinai to Afghanistan from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.  

While in Kuwait, the 134th CST to provided religious support for Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, Army and civilian personnel and ensured three worship services, two bible studies and a prayer meeting were provided weekly. Hagwood and Dunlop went on to do the same type of ministry at New Kabul Compound in Afghanistan.

The 134th CST made certain religious support and morale was increased through encouragement for the two choirs by ensuring state of the art musical instruments, audio/video equipment and computers were available and serviceable resulting in the growth of choir participation by 500%.

The 134th CST ensured that the chapel was open 24 hours a day / seven days a week and there were numerous religious materials available for personnel of all faiths.

Background information on Detachment 26, Operational Support Airlift Command:

Approximately 17 Soldiers assigned to Detachment 26, Operational Support Airlift Command of the Virginia Army National Guard mobilized early in 2009 for duty in Afghanistan, and those Soldiers came from across the Commonwealth. The Soldiers returned from duty in March 2010.

The Soldiers of the Detachment 26 conducted 24 hour/7 day a week operations utilizing the Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System aircraft by providing pilots and systems operators who were in direct contact with ground commanders and centralized ground based intelligence collection and analysis centers.

The Detachment 26 was part of a recently declassified program called Task Force ODIN-A (Observe, Detect, Identify, Neutralize – Afghanistan) which provides persistent manned and un-manned aerial reconnaissance and ground based capabilities analyzing and disseminating real-time battlefield intelligence and targeting information to ground commanders and other organizations throughout Afghanistan.

The contribution of the Detachment 26 was to find and interdict insurgent Improvised Explosive Device networks before they can emplace those explosives rather than finding them after they have been placed. Detachment 26 is just one component of a diverse system of manned fixed wing aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and ground based systems that were operated by Active Duty, Army National Guard and civilian contractors.

The Detachment 26 unit members procured and modified office space, set up communications capabilities, and developed procedures for 24-hour operations.

The Detachment 26 flew several hundred combat missions and thousands of accident free hours were flown prior to the unit returning from deployment.

Additional reporting by Mr. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs

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