FORT PICKETT – Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Gate City-based 1032nd Transportation Company, 1030th Trans. Battalion, 329th Regional Support group, completed an international line haul mission to Canada and back Dec. 8.
The 64-Soldier team helped Canadian soldiers from the 34th Canadian Brigade Group move howitzers and other equipment from St. Hubert, Quebec, to Fort Pickett where about 250 Canadian soldiers are conducting a training exercise this month.
The 1032nd team departed Abingdon Dec. 3 with 21 M915 tractors, two wreckers, one contact truck and six-passenger vehicles. After an overnight stop at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., the convoy arrived in Quebec Dec. 5 and loaded the Canadian artillery pieces and other equipment. They departed Canada on the 6th and, after another overnight stop in Pennsylvania, arrived at Fort Pickett.
Capt. Christopher Davis, the 1032nd’s commander, said the team completed the 2,000-mile journey with no major incidents.
“I believe it is important to conduct these real-world missions because it allows units to get out of their comfort zones; get out of doing the same thing every year,” Davis said. “It’s great for retention as well. Very often, my soldiers ask why they can’t do missions like these every year. They enjoy doing their job and driving.”
The unit accepted the Canada mission in July and planned every aspect of the journey, including the border crossing.
“We completed a recon to Canada in October and coordinated with the U.S. and Canadian Border Patrols in order to facilitate a smooth border crossing both ways,” Davis explained. “This included conducting background checks on all personnel set to cross the border and pre-clearing them for entrance into Canada.”
The 1032nd also identified fuel points along the route and secured meals and barracks for the transportation team. There was only one big challenge they had to react to when it happened.
“During our movement from Canada back to Fort Indiantown Gap, we encountered severe weather conditions,” said 2nd Lt. Victoria Bond. “We utilized our experience and leadership to help keep the convoy in close intervals and low speeds. We restacked the convoy, putting the heaviest vehicles in the front to slow down the speed. We successfully navigated through rain, sleet, snow and ice, all while following safety precautions, with no accidents. We are extremely proud of our Soldiers for their performance under such harsh conditions.”
The Canadian unit's leaders were thankful for the support of the 1032nd Transportation Company.
“They’re professional men and women,” said Lt. Rosul Khalique, an administration officer with the 34th Canadian Brigade Group. “They’ve been supporting us since the get-go in transporting all of our equipment and our guns here. All the logistical support they provided us was amazing.”
Davis said the successful mission benefitted his team as well.
“First, they get to experience different loads than what they’re used to,” he said. “Second, they get to see and do something outside the norm, which can help retention. These missions benefit the unit as a whole because of the collective training we received.”