***image1***Operation Iraqi Freedom may be called the largest rotation of forces since World War II. That’s where the similarity ends.
Soldiers rolling through Nuremberg, Germany, on their way to OIF enjoy a number of amenities thanks to the 21st Theater Support Command’s 51st Maintenance Battalion, “Victory through support” efforts.
And it’s not just the roughly 13,000 1st Infantry Division Soldiers the unit is pushing out who can enjoy 21st TSC’s assistance to make the OIF rotation a smooth one. Other units deploying downrange, as well as Kosovo Force and Stabilization Force Soldiers, also benefit.
The battalion has an additional motivation to take care of deploying Soldiers. Two of its own companies, the 574th Supply and 512th Maintenance, reached Camp Anaconda last week.
“We want to ensure the Soldiers have a smooth transition on their way downrange,” said Lt. Col. Cynthia Fox, the 51st Maintenance Battalion commander. “We want the Soldiers to get there ready to do their missions not worn out from the effort of getting downrange.”
1st Sgt. Jack Donn, of the 1-63rd Armored Battalion, 1st ID, said he was feeling upbeat. But it wasn’t the hot showers, dining facility or Morale Welfare and Recreation facility that had his spirits up.
“We just left our bags on the bus and they took them off and loaded them onto the trucks,” Sergeant Donn said. “The next time we’ll see our bags will probably be (in Iraq). That’s just outstanding!”
The 1st ID had an honor guard and a general officer present that said goodbye to Sergeant Donn and the Soldiers as they boarded the plane to Kuwait Wednesday.
Because Sergeant Donn did not have to wait around for his flight, he did not have time to visit the dining facility. But he and the rest of the almost 300 Soldiers who deployed on the flight were given meals to eat on their trip.
Had Sergeant Donn not been boarding a plane but needed a quick bite he still would have gotten something to eat.
“If it’s between meals,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Collins, Dining Facility non-commissioned officer in charge, “Soldiers should come see me or one of my cooks. I will make sure they eat.”
The chow hall has items like soup, sandwiches, breads, cakes or hot tea available between meals.
“They never need to go hungry,” said Mary Tuiet, a buffet server. “They will always find food available here.”
If a Soldier loses his ID card or ID tags, he can get new ones made on the spot, said Pvt. 2 Class Andrea Madison, a 1st Personnel Command Human Resources specialist.
“But only if you don’t have ID tags or a card at all,” she said. “This is not a service to give you a spare ID card.”
“If Soldiers have the time, they can visit the MWR tent where they have use of the Internet, phones, pool tables, games, movies, videos, books and even wood carving kits,” Colonel Fox said.
Also, Soldiers have a full array of spiritual literature and necessities available to them as well as a chaplain. Those services are available 24 hours a day.
It’s all part of 51st Maintenance Battalion’s mission of efficiently sending thousands of troops out of a small airport with as short a wait as possible. It is their goal to make the wait time as comfortable and relaxed as possible for the Soldiers, before they must say good-bye to Germany and do their duty in a less welcoming and far more dangerous environment.