Thursday, January 15, 2009

West Virginian southern comfort

Sgt. William M. Zoeller
Jan. 14, 2009

FORT DIX, N.J. -- The 332nd Ordnance Battalion located in Kenova, W. Va., rigorously continues training at Fort Dix, N.J., for Operation Iraqi Freedom. About 60 Army Reserve Soldiers left their homes around West Virginia to the Tri-State Armed Forces Reserve Center in Kenova for deployment to Kuwait on Jan. 3, 2009.

Being away from family and friends can be difficult for anyone deploying but the Soldiers of the 332nd have helped each other cope with separation from their loved ones by embracing each other as extended family.

Spc. Sara Mitchell, intelligence analyst with the 332nd Ordnance Battalion, knows the sacrifices Soldiers face to serve their country. Her husband, Thomas, waits for her return from her deployment. She understands the importance of family and the camaraderie required to keep spirits high within the unit.

“The leadership is fantastic! We’re like a close-knit family,” She said “The command staff knows each and every one of us and our families.”

There are lots of team building concepts such as relay races and other events that built teamwork, and helped make it a more cohesive unit, Mitchell said with a smile.

Additional ways Soldiers of the unit cope with family separation are by bonding and talking about problems to each other while at a pizza parlor or during a game of bowling. The Soldiers remain in high spirits because of the relationship they have with each other, and this has directly reflected the training exercises they have been performing.

The 332nd trained on combat related tasks ranging from rifle marksmanship and crew-served weapons to military operations in an urban environment during an exercise in December at a Regional Readiness Center in Fort Hunter-Ligett, Calif.

The troops are highly motivated and due to the cohesion and unity, the 332nd went straight through all the training over the last 100 days without a hitch, said Maj. Edward G. Cox Jr., logistics officer for the 332nd Ordnance Battalion. All of the Soldiers are extremely supportive of one another, he added.

Cox is no exception to the anxiety of family separation. He has a wife and three children at home in Logan, W. Va.

“To accomplish all the training so quickly required the need of excellent leadership and team effort from the commander down to the individual Soldier,” Cox said.

Lt. Col. Charles McCormick, commander of the 332nd Ordnance Battalion, leads as the example of team-building and unity. His efforts can be seen throughout his unit, giving the 332nd a unique ability to work like a well-oiled machine that has allowed the unit to go through the training exercises quickly and efficiently.

For some Soldiers, this is their fourth deployment. For others, this is their first. The accumulated experiences from Soldiers that have deployed before has given confidence to those who haven’t served overseas.

“Without the teamwork we wouldn’t be here today,” Cox said.

Now the unit is gearing up and receiving final briefings and refresher training as required for their next stop: Kuwait. Their mission will take them to various parts of the country in support of deployment and redeployment operations for U.S. and coalition forces where they will continue to provide the team work necessary to move troops to and from theater, and ultimately completing their own mission and returning to their own families.


No comments: