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Transportation Units Make Long Haul to Bring Equipment Back to Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. Michael Camacho, 108th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:39

CAMP RIPLEY, MINN. (07/31/2012)(readMedia)-- As the Illinois National Guard's 2012 eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) came to a close July 28 at Camp Ripley Minn., drawdown operations were in full swing July 24 to 30 as transportation units hauled cargo back to Illinois.

Since early July more than 3,000 Illinois National Guardsmen trained in Camp Ripley as part of XCTC.

The 108th Sustainment Brigade in Chicago, took the lead with the redeployment of troops to home station.

The 1144th Transportation Battalion (Motor Transport) conducted line-haul missions taking cargo back to Illinois. The 1244th Transportation Company in North Riverside and 1744th Transportation Company in Crestwood, made the 1,000-mile round trip moving containers, vehicles and equipment between to the two states. The 1144th conducted more than 130 missions traveling roughly 364,000 miles and moving nearly 1.52 million pounds of cargo.

"In every stage of this mission, our sustainment operations have played a critical role," said Lt. Col. Tracey Collins of Naperville, 108th deputy commanding officer. "Now at the end of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's training, the 108th is still providing support as we get our Soldiers and our equipment home."

Collins said the transportation units in the 1144th have been the key players behind the scenes moving both the 108th and 33rd cargo.

"Whatever needs to be hauled, we'll have it on the road and back to the unit's home station," said Collins.

The 1144th and its subordinate units moved equipment to Camp Ripley before the arrival of the 33rd at Camp Ripley and moved it back to Illinois while the 33rd travelled home.

"There's a lot of moving pieces out there. Almost every day we've had Soldiers from the 1244th and our sister company, the 1744th, on the road between Illinois and Minnesota," said Sgt. 1st Class Scott Drabek with the 1244th. "They're out on the road, driving for hours to make sure this equipment gets home quickly and safely."

Drabek said this mission has allowed the drivers to gain experience behind the wheel in a real world setting.

"Our Soldiers are always mission first," said Drabek. "These guys are always ready for anything that may come down the road and they're always willing to help their fellow Soldiers."

U.S Army photo by Sgt. Michael Camacho, 108th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs/ Spc. Edgardo Serrano of Chicago with the 1244th Transportation Company in North Riverside, chains down a Howitzer cannon July 24 at Camp Ripley, Minn. The 1244th and 1744th Transportation Companies made the 1,000-mile round trip moving containers, vehicles and equipment between Minnesota and Illinois.

U.S Army photo by Sgt. Michael Camacho, 108th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs/ Sgt. Sonia Rivas of Garden Prairie and Pfc. Alexis Millan of Hanover Park both with the 1244th Transportation Company in North Riverside, chain down a Howitzer cannon July 24 at Camp Ripley, Minn. The 1244th and 1744th Transportation Companies made the 1,000-mile round trip moving containers, vehicles and equipment between Minnesota and Illinois.

U.S Army photo by Sgt. Michael Camacho, 108th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs/ Soldiers with the 1244th Transportation Company in North Riverside, chain down a Howitzer cannon July 24 at Camp Ripley, Minn. The 1244th and 1744th Transportation Companies made the 1,000-mile round trip moving containers, vehicles and equipment between Minnesota and Illinois.

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Loebsack Continues Focus on Improving Veterans Services PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Joe Hand   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 15:35

Takes Part in Hearing with Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today continued his work to improve Veterans’ services and benefits.  As the only member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) from Iowa, Loebsack took part in a joint hearing with the House Veterans Affairs Committee on how to ease the transition from military service to civilian life.  Earlier this month, Loebsack held a series of forums for Iowa Veterans across Eastern and Southeastern Iowa.  He then personally met with senior VA leadership to bring Iowa Veterans’ concerns and idea directly to them.

“Our Veterans have proudly served our nation and it is our responsibility to support and care for them when they return home. I have helped Iowa Veterans secure VA benefits, and there is no greater honor I have than working on their behalf.  However, no Veteran should have to fight to find a job here at home or to receive the Veterans benefits they deserve.  Our nation has a moral responsibility to ensure they receive the care and benefits they deserve and to give them the tools they need to secure good job and successfully transition to civilian life.

“Today’s hearing focused on an issue of concern to countless Iowa Veterans I have met.  There must be greater coordination between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to help Veterans successfully transition to civilian life.  As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to stand up for our Veterans and work to ensure they receive the support, benefits, and care they need and deserve.”

Loebsack has championed numerous initiatives to assist Veterans transitioning to civilian life, including introducing and successfully enacting legislation to increase Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for members of the National Guard.  This legislation resulted in increased benefits for over 1,300 Iowans and over 84,000 members of the National Guard nationwide.  Loebsack also championed the VOW to Hire Veterans Act, which was signed into law last year. This bill provides businesses with tax credits of $2,400-$9,600 to hire veterans and extends the Transition Assistance Program, including resume writing workshops and career counseling, to all servicemembers leaving the military.  It also expanded training opportunities for older veterans by providing up to a year of additional Montgomery GI benefits, and provided disabled veterans with up to a year of additional Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits.  Loebsack also introduced and secured enactment of an initiative to increase access to mental health care for members of the National Guard.

###

 
This Amazing Story of Heroism May Bring You to Tears PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Move America Forward   
Monday, 23 July 2012 13:52

The following story comes to us from blogger Kevin Hanrahan who blogs about our troops and military dogs. It is a true story witnessed by his friend "Steve" in Afghanistan

The 1st Cavalry Division Chaplain went to the hospital here in Afghanistan tonight with one of the Deputy Commanding Generals to pin a Purple Heart on a Soldier that was wounded  this morning by an IED. The Chaplain was telling me that this young hero was severely injured, he was missing his left hand, one side of his face was completely torn apart, and his body was peppered with shrapnel.

Our General pinned the purple heart on the Soldier, then asked him if there was anything he could do for him before he was flown out of theater. The Soldier could not speak so he moved his one remaining hand signaling for a pen. He was handed a pen and paper, then wrote a note to our General.

The Chaplin was telling me he thought it was going to be a request to call his wife or pass a message back home that he was going to be OK, when he looked at the note he saw a list of supplies his Soldiers needed that were still out on the battlefield fighting. Our Chaplin told me that it was the first time he saw our General cry during a Purple Heart ceremony.

This HERO is the reason why I have left my family for five of the past 11 years. There is no higher honor then to stand with these men and women in combat.
- Facebook wall of U.S. Soldier "Steve"
1st Cavalry Division, Deployed to Afghanistan


This story not only speaks to the selfless nature of our troops but it also underscores a problem in Afghanistan that we're trying to combat - the lack of supplies.

We all know that Afghanistan is a tough place to get supplies in and out of, especially for the troops serving in the mountains or the remote areas on the border with Pakistan.

We're working hard to get our packages to the troops who need them the most - the ones that are on the front lines, not on a well-supplied base or air field.

 
Armored Knight Brings Sense of Security to Kewanee National Guard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. 1st Class Mike Chrisman, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Monday, 23 July 2012 12:50

CAMP RIPLEY, MINN. (07/21/2012)(readMedia)-- "It makes me the most lethal guy on the battlefield," said Staff Sgt. Kurt Russell of Peoria, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry in Kewanee, Ill., as he talked about the new M1200 Armored Knight vehicle that his unit began using at Camp Ripley, Minn. during the unit's three-week annual training exercise.

The M1200 Armored Knight is an improved version of the M1117 Armored Security Vehicle (ASV) that has been used overseas and recently acquired by Illinois Army National Guard military police companies. The sole purpose of the M1200 Armored Knight is to provide a forward observer team the best communications, protection and targeting technology available to quickly and accurately bring fire onto an enemy.

"It's very similar at a glance," said Russell. "They have changed the turret, improved the equipment technology on the inside and improved the armor to better protect us."

The new Knight vehicle weighs approximately 16 tons and can travel about 400 miles on one tank of fuel, with a maximum highway speed of 63 miles per hour. It can also ford through 60 inches of water and muddy terrain without getting stuck.

"It's fun to drive," said Pfc. Jake Johnson of Mason City, Ill. with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd squadron, 106th Cavalry in Kewanee. "We are pushing the limits and testing the capabilities of the vehicle. There is so much armor, it would take a lot to tear one of these apart."

Russell deployed to Iraq with the 1744th Transportation Company in Streator in 2006-2007 where he drove the M1117 ASV and up-armored humvees. Russell said he is thrilled to be able to train for a future deployment with such great vehicles.

"There is no comparison," Russell said. "It can take a direct impact and keep going. With the run-flat tires, you can pop a tire and still get back to base. If given the choice between an MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle), up-armored humvee and the Armored Knight, I would take the Armored Knight every single day and twice on Sunday."

The Kewanee National Guard unit received three of the $1.7 million vehicles while at Camp Ripley. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Urbana received four of the vehicles.

"It's a great vehicle that is capable of driving on any terrain," said Pvt. Mark Gibson of Pekin, Ill. with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry in Kewanee. "I feel lucky to be one of the nine guys assigned to these trucks."

Russell said it's important for the cavalry unit to be equipped with high tech equipment like the Armored Knight.

"The cavalry's mission is to go out first and scout the enemy," Russell said. "We have to get a good lay of the land so the infantry elements don't come into a surprise. This vehicle allows us to take fire and lay down suppressive fire while targeting both hard and soft targets for supporting elements and continue to move through the area. We have the communication assets to warn other elements about the enemy's position, make-up and other information critical to the battlefield."

The Black Knight contains a laser designator, a laser range finder and GPS. It is also equipped with computers that take target position data and transmit it to distant artillery units, close in mortar units, naval gunfire or fighters/bombers overhead and get accurate firepower on the target within minutes.

While the technology helps make the missions a success, most of the Soldiers talk about the protection the vehicle provides.

"I feel pretty secure and comfortable," said Gibson. "The armor provided a lot of protection. From the thick armor on the sides to the deflecting shield on the bottom for IEDs, it's a solid vehicle."

The 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team is no longer scheduled for a 2013 deployment; however, they are continuing to train for future mobilization opportunities. Russell said the new sense of security makes his team more confident they will be prepared for combat when called upon.

"In a mobile battlefield, these trucks lead the way," Russell said. "This is just one more piece on the brigade's chess board of pieces to bring absolute and immediate lethality to the enemy."

https://s3.amazonaws.com/attachments.readmedia.com/files/42262/original/20120721-UF180-001.jpg?1342903569

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Mike Chrisman, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ The M1200 Armored Knight is an improved version of the M1117 Armored Security Vehicle (ASV) that has been used overseas and recently acquired by Illinois Army National Guard military police companies. The sole purpose of the M1200 Armored Knight is to provide a forward observer team the best communications, protection, and targeting technology available to quickly and accurately bring fires onto an enemy. The Illinois Army National Guard was issued seven Armored Knights in July while training in Minnesota.

 
Amazing 25 Year Old Girl Delivers Hundreds of Care Packages to Afghanistan! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Move America Forward   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:40
LACEY CASTLEBERRY ONLY 25, DELIVERS MAF
CARE PACKAGES TO TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN!


One of our most special and important guests of this year's Troopathon was not a big-name celebrity who everyone has heard of, but someone who is just as important to our troops as anyone else on our guest list.

Her name is Lacey and even though she's just 25 years old, she has done some amazing things with MAF to help our troops in a direct way. Lacey is a civilian contractor and works out of air bases in Afghanistan and volunteers for Operation Care. She is one of the people that MAF and other pro-troop groups use to distribute our support packages to troops on the front lines. She joined us on Troopathon to tell her story.

"Most of our care packages that we get are from Move America Forward"...

"On the larger bases we have a little PX, a little store, to get deodorant and shampoo but a lot of these guys who need it are at the smaller bases. So we would get these care packages out on the helicopters and out to these smaller bases that only get supplies so often. So these are the guys who get rationed food, they may not get showers for days..."

"...just to see the smiles and the excitement and the joy on these guys' faces was pretty incredible!"


- Lacey Castleberry, interviewed on Troopathon 2012

Lacey is a huge help to MAF and an important component of our operation. She is our link to the troops on the front lines and part of what makes sponsoring a care package through Move America Forward as special and unique way to support the troops! 

Please donate now and help us get MORE packages to Lacey so she can get them out into the hands of the troops who need them!

DONATE NOW TO SEND SUPPLIES TO
THE TROOPS WHO NEED THEM MOST!


CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL CLIP
OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH LACEY !

 
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