Final Virginia National Guard convoy ships out of Iraq

With Operation New Dawn close to end of mission, the Virginia Army National Guard is exiting Iraq in its final convoy out of Contingency Operating Base Adder on Dec. 2.

“We were a convoy escort team,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond Bunch, convoy commander, Able Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, Virginia Army National Guard, from Scottsville, Va. “We would pick up logistic supplies … and escort them from one base to another to their final destination.”

Soldiers’ equipment and vehicles are inspected and ready for the final journey.

Able Troop is getting ready to leave COB Adder and head south across the border into Kuwait, and start turning in all of our gear for our end of deployment, said Bunch.

The mine resistant ambush protected vehicles the unit will convoy out of the country in are lined up just outside the Soldier living area.

“Our squadron was all housed here,” said Bunch. “Our squadron tactical operation center was right across the road, and the main motor pool was behind there. That’s why we’ve moved all the vehicles over here to be closer to the containerized housing units and get everything out.”

The unit was scheduled to leave days ago, but stayed on after being tasked with a few last missions.

“Things got pushed along,” said Bunch. “We ended up having to run a few more missions, and it seems like every time we thought we were running our last mission, they said, ‘We need you to run one more.’ And of course, the needs of the Army comes first.”

The convoys throughout the deployment were successful, even though soldiers had to learn new tasks and responsibilities for the mission.

“Able Troop itself is just a conglomeration of where they pulled a whole bunch of people from across the state to make this [mission] come together,” said Bunch. “Military occupational specialties and people that aren’t necessarily used to working together had to come together quick and learn a whole new role than what any of us were trained for, and I think we did an excellent job in doing that.”

This is the final mission preparation for Able Troop.

“Today is a culmination of everything we’ve done,” said Cpl. Josh Brainard, vehicle commander, Able Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cav., from Williamsburg, Va. “Now, it’s our final convoy to Kuwait, to leave today.”

Essentially what we’re doing now is almost like a regular mission preparation, said Brainard.

We have to inspect the vehicles, lay out our medical equipment, our weapons cleaning kits, safety gear, meals-ready-to-eat and water, everything to be inspected for this mission, he said. Then get everything strapped down and get ready to go.

“I’m very, very excited,” said Brainard. “My wife actually had our first child, so I’m really very anxious to get home.

The soldiers are hopeful to be home before the holidays, said Bunch.

“Of course here at the end [the mission] is to get everybody out,” said Bunch. “And then today is the end for us. We’re basically escorting ourselves out. Everybody’s pumped and excited about that because we’re done, we’re getting ready to go home.”

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