May 23, 2007

Virginia Guard troops help welcome the Queen to Jamestown

By Capt. Dennis Rohler
529th CSSB Public Affairs

Tractor trailers of the 1710th Transportation Company make their way into Jamestown loaded with nine Jersey barriers each. Each truck load weighed 40,500 pounds. (Photo by Capt. Dennis Rohler, 529th CSSB Public Affairs)

JAMESTOWN, Va. – Early on the morning of May 3, the tractor trailer drivers of the Virginia National Guard’s 1710th Transportation Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion began a convoy that would lead them to the beginning of an annual training like no other. How many units can say that annual training was defined by words like Bollard, Jersey barrier, generator light sets, and the Queen of England? Yes, that’s right the Queen of England.

The 529th CSSB was tasked with the mission of supporting the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the first English Settlement in America, Jamestown, where they had the opportunity to see the Queen of England during her visit to the site prior to the celebration.

The celebration spanned May 11-13 and with such a high profile event, preparation for security began months in advance. The staff of the 529th CSSB began meeting with officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation, James City County and Virginia State Police months prior to the event and began coordination of the security plan.

The main project the National Guard’s resources were needed for was the transport and emplacement of 315 12-foot Jersey barriers from West Point to the Jamestown site. The 1710th Transportation Company fit the bill.

The barriers were to be placed along strategic avenues of approach to the festival site to ensure that unauthorized vehicles could not enter. Each tractor trailer was capable of hauling nine barriers at a time and the company was motivated about the mission.

 

Soldiers of Headquarters Company, 529th CSSB emplaced 300-lb. bollards along the festival site. (Photo by Capt. Dennis Rohler, 529th CSSB Public Affairs)

 

The company established three separate serials consisting of four tractors each. Each serial was supported by a bobtail tractor, single tractor without a trailer. The bobtail’s mission was immediate extraction of the trailer of any vehicle having maintenance issues so the mission could carry on.

The tractor would be left in place while the unit maintenance contact team and the contact team from the 3647 th Maintenance Company from Blackstone evacuated the downed tractor. This would have allowed for uninterrupted flow of the barriers and minimal impact on local area traffic.

The 1710th TC is currently commanded by Capt. Michael Belforti. Belforti recently took command and was inspired by the motivation of his unit to tackle this mission.

This mission gave the transporters of the 1710th the opportunity to haul a very heavy load and the chance to operate in all types of environments. The route took the drivers from the contracting yard at Curtis Contracting out onto rural stretches of road.

The truckers then operated on the interstate, through congested traffic in Williamsburg and finally into the maze at Jamestown. Drivers got plenty of training on close quarter driving, coordination with the material handlers of Curtis Contracting and much training in backing of the three axle trailers which are more difficult to back than those that commercial haulers are used to.

Emplacement of the barriers took place on May 3-5 and the displacement was completed May 14-16. After the emplacement the unit conducted an after action review and, based on their findings, conducted training back at Fort Pickett that set them up to be even more efficient during the displacement.

Lt. Col. Byron Marshall receives a situation report from Maj. Doyle Gillis on the status of the mission. (Photo by Capt. Dennis Rohler, 529th CSSB Public Affairs)

Young drivers were given the opportunity to refine their skills and learn from the experienced line haulers of the 1710th. The training paid off and the drivers looked even better on the displacement.

“The spirit of these Virginians is incredible,” said Lt. Col. Byron Marshall, commander of the 529th CSSB. “We asked them to change their annual training dates at short notice to ensure success of this important mission and they performed at a level higher than I could have expected. Supporting the Commonwealth is what we do and we do it well.”

This was not just a mission for the 1710th Transportation Company, but for the entire battalion. Headquarters Company had its share of road time as well. Its mission was to transport eight generator light sets from Waller Depot in Richmond to the Jamestown settlement site. They also emplaced 38 300-lb. bollards in strategic weak spots in the security plan to ensure that the area around the festival could not be penetrated by vehicles that could pose a possible threat to the festivities.

The 3647th Maintenance Company supplied the maintenance contact team that was on the ground supporting the missions and the convoys. They were able to fix minor issues on a few vehicles but the hard work of the unit in preparation for the mission really paid off. Maintenance is a top priority for the 1710th and it really showed during this mission.

The 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and their subordinate units will continue to be called upon to support the Commonwealth of Virginia. Whether it is long haul missions, hurricane evacuation preparedness, maintenance support, military support to civil authorities or any myriad of roles they may be called up to perform they will be there ready to support.

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