September 12, 2008

South Boston and Roanoke area Soldiers gather for Freedom Salutes

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the South Boston and Roanoke areas gathered Sept. 7 to conduct Freedom Salutes in honor of the service of E Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion in Iraq from July 2007 to May 2008. Early Sunday morning, the unit held their Freedom Salute in South Boston, followed by another ceremony that afternoon in Roanoke.

“It is an honor for me to be here today on behalf on Gov. Tim Kaine to say welcome home and thank you,” said the Honorable John Marshall, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety. “When I use the term that I am I honored to be here, please know I don’t use that in a casual way or figure of speech. Honor is far too important. When I look out at you Soldiers, I see dedication to service duty, I see courage and most importantly, I see honor. Please know that I am as sincere as I can be that I am honored to be with you.”

Marshall also saluted the families for their sacrifice and support. “Once again we say thank you to the families for stepping up to the plate as you do time and time again.”

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, congratulated the unit on a job well done for a very tough mission. “My thanks to you and for all your do for our country and Virginia,” he said. “My thanks to the families for your service, because your support can never be underestimated.”

The unit’s service in Iraq and Kuwait earned them special recognition. Maj. Tim Eppele, the E Company Commander, announced at each Freedom Salute that unit will be awarded the National Defense Transportation Award as the best transportation company in the entire National Guard.

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 received a American flag in a wood display case, a Defender of Freedom certificate as well as commemorative coins and medallions.

Approximately 170 Soldiers from the Roanoke-based E Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion returned home May 13 after serving in Iraq since July 2007. Approximately 60 of the 170 Soldiers are from the South Boston-based A Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion. Soldiers from the South Boston unit were organized into Detachment 3 of A Company to serve with E Company for the mission.

The unit mobilized in May 2007 and conducted mobilization training at Camp Atterbury, Ind. before arriving in Iraq in July 2007.

E Company was attached to 1144th Transportation Battalion from Illinois National Guard while they were deployed. E Company is a medium truck company that hauled supplies in theater. The 1144th was assigned to 4th Sustainment Brigade headquartered in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

The unit had no Soldiers wounded in action, but had one Soldier killed in action during the deployment. Staff Sgt. Jesse A. Ault, 28, of Dublin, Va., died April 9 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered in Tunnis, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. The unit held a moment of silence in Ault’s honor at each Freedom Salute ceremony.

 

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