Task Force Phantoms, 240th QM Bn. Deploys

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A task force of about 40 Soldiers from Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 240th Quartermaster Battalion, 49th QM Group, deployed Sunday in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The majority of the Soldiers volunteered to be part of the task force when the call went out earlier this year. They had their first formation March 5 and had about 90 days to train for the mission, said Maj. Dennis Levesque, task force commander.

To prepare for the deployment, Soldiers conducted training tasks and battle drills, from legal training to improvised explosive device recognition, before culminating in a final exercise at Fort Dix, N.J.

“(Fort Dix) has a massive city setup with role players,” Levesque said. “They have the most current techniques for down range. Their sole job is train up Soldiers to go to the desert.”

Some of the training included language and cultural awareness conducted by Afghanis or Iraqis.

Good training is important for the unit, but so is experience, and Levesque said that most of the Soldiers have deployed at least once.

“It makes my job and the first sergeant’s job a lot easier,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Quadedra Archie, a training noncommissioned officer, is deploying to Iraq for a second time. The first time she deployed was with the 54th Quartermaster Company, 240th QM Bn., in 2003. She was a private first class at the time.

“It was tough, but I realized that I could do it again if I needed to,” Archie said. “Now, I’m going back as a staff sergeant who’s responsible for 13 Soldiers.”

Archie leaves behind three children, but she said that it’s a sacrifice she has to make as part of her goal to progress in her Army career. At the same time, Archie said she and the task force Soldiers have become an extended family.

“We had about two and half months to get close to each other and now we’ve got cohesion like (no other unit),” she said.

Pfc. Tony Martin is deploying for the first time after 16 months in the Army. He was originally assigned to the 267th Quartermaster Company, 240th QM Bn., but raised his hand to be part of this deploying team.

“I wanted to help out and do my job, and do what I joined the military for,” Martin said. “I wanted to do something positive and constructive.”

Martin is a radio operator and maintainer but will more than likely be doing a little bit of everything and that’s fine with him, he said, as long as he can contribute and make his family proud.

“I want my family to see I’m out there doing something different, stepping out on my own and being my own man, making decisions on the field that requires concentration instead of just making decisions on what video game I’m going to play next,” he said.

Martin said he has been through so much training the last few weeks that, “we have no choice but to feel confident.” He said he looks forward to putting it all into practice.