June 16, 2009

1710th conducts Freedom Salute in Emporia

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

EMPORIA, Va. — Soldiers of the 1710th Transportation Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, joined friends and family to celebrate their homecoming during a Freedom Salute ceremony at the Golden Leaf Commons in Emporia June 14 in honor of the unit’s service in Iraq.

  1710th Freedom Salute

Sgt. 1st Class Ravon Canaday from Williamsburg proudly displays his Bronze Star Medal while standing in formation during the 1710th Transportation Company's Freedom Salute in Emporia, Va., June 14. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

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.

During the ceremony, special guest speaker John W. Marshall, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety, spoke on the importance of recognizing the hard work these Soldiers perform not just during combat missions abroad, but also to the important role Guardsmen play domestically.

“We should never take for granted our Virginia National Guard and all that you do to keep us safe here across the commonwealth and when called upon across the nation and around the world,” said Marshall. “Not only are you Virginia heroes; you are American heroes.”

The Freedom Salute was also an opportunity to thank the families and the friends of these Virginia National Guard Soldiers for all the hard work and sacrifices they had to make while their loved ones were away.

“They can’t do their job without you doing your jobs,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, the Adjutant General of Virginia, in regards to the family members in attendance. “We recognize it’s often times tougher on you than it is on them. This is one unit, one family together.”

Following the Freedom Salute, the 1710th awarded 14 Bronze Stars, four Meritorious Service Medals, 123 Army Commendation Medals and two Army Achievement Medals for their outstanding efforts supporting the Global War on Terrorism.

  1710th Freedom Salute

Sgt. Michael Dupnak from Virginia Beach, a driver with the 1710th Transportation Company, receives the Army Commendation Medal from Brig. Gen. Stephen Huxtable during the company's Freedom Salute ceremony in Emporia June 14. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

While in Iraq, the 1710th was assigned to the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion from Fort Polk, La. The 142nd was part of the Fort Eustis-based 7th Sustainment Brigade.

The unit provided medium lift transportation that moved critical supplies from logistical support areas out to different forward operating bases, traveling supply routes all through Iraq. The unit conducted more than 75 missions, traveled more than 900,000 miles and was evaluated as the best of nine companies in the battalion. The unit had no Soldiers wounded or killed in action.

The unit was organized with about 180 Soldiers in a headquarters section that provided administrative, maintenance and logistical support, and three truck platoons each equipped with 20 M915A3 tractor trucks and 40 flatbed trailers. The trailers are 40 feet long and can haul up to 64,000 pounds of cargo.

Soldiers from the Individual Ready Reserve augmented the company during the mobilization to bring to full strength.

The 1710th conducted a departure ceremony in Emporia March 11, 2008 to recognize the start of their federal mobilization for duty in Iraq. They spent about six weeks training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., before deploying to Iraq.

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