Fort Hood transportation unit heads home

Story and photos by Sgt. John Stimac
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The 49th Transportation Battalion, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) handed its mission over to the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control), during a transfer of authority ceremony April 3 at Morale,Welfare and Recreation center east at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

The ceremony marked the end of a year-long deployment for the 49th Trans. Bn. out of Fort Hood, Texas, and the beginning of a year-long deployment for the 14th Trans. Bn. out of Vicenza, Italy.

Lt. Col. Peter M. Haas, commander of the 49th Trans. Bn. and a Fleetwood, Pa., native, said his battalion coordinated the movement and cargo loads of 1.1 million trucks.

"This headquarters, with the hard work of all our movement control teams, matched cargo to most of those trucks, synchronized all of that traffic and made it move on time every day," he said.

The 49th Trans. Bn. has had 49 subordinate units serve under its flag in the last 11 months, and prepared for and managed 31 separate TOAs.

"We've lived at 17 different bases spread across the entire 167,000 square-mile expanse of Iraq," said Haas.

Lt. Col. Jacqueline Baehler, the mobility chief with the 13th SC(E) and a Great Falls, Mont., native, said the 49th Trans. Bn.'s command proved to be very knowledgeable during its operations in Iraq.

Its guidance was vital to the missions of the 13th SC(E), United States Forces – Iraq and all of the U.S. divisions in Iraq, said Baehler.

"You went through them if you wanted to move something in theater," she said. "They're very good at what they do."

Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general of the 13th SC(E) and a Mansfield, Ohio, native, thanked the 49th Trans. Bn. for its contributions to the sustainment mission and, more importantly, for posturing the 13th SC(E) for the successful execution of the responsible drawdown.

"Your efforts are vital to all that we do," he said. "As I stand here today, I have to tell you that the officers, (noncommissioned officers) and the Soldiers have all made us proud."

Wentz said the 49th Trans. Bn. set the bar extremely high.

"Despite attacks, weather, miles or maintenance, you assured and gave us the flexibility and agility required to provide world class sustainment and distribution to Coalition forces, where and when they needed it the most," he said.

In his speech to the 14th Trans. Bn., Wentz said he knows their team is excited and ready to get on with the mission.

"I look forward to working with you in what I'm sure will be a historic event for all of us here," he said. "This is a mission I know you and your Soldiers have prepared for and are ready to assume."

Lt. Col. James A. Rupkalvis, commander of the 14th Trans. Bn. and a Mitchell, Neb., native, said he wanted to thank the 49th for the outstanding TOA process it completed.

"I can confidently say that this is easily the best TOA that any of us have ever seen," he said. "That's a testament to the phenomenal professionalism of the unit, from the leadership down to the lowest ranking Soldier."

Rupkalvis said they are motivated to take on their next mission.

"I can tell you without hesitation or reservation that you are trained and ready to accomplish this mission," he said. "The responsible drawdown of forces in Iraq will be tough and challenging, but I have every confidence that we will succeed."

 

news photo
Lt. Col Peter M. Haas, commander of the 49th Transportation Battalion, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Fleetwood, Pa., native, and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph L. Bivens, senior enlisted adviser with the 49th Trans. Bn. and an Alabaster, Ala., native, case their colors during a transfer of authority ceremony April 2 at Morale, Welfare and Recreation center east at Joint Base Balad, Iraq

news photo
Lt. Col. James A. Rupkalvis, commander of the 14th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) out of Vicenza, Italy, and a Mitchell, Neb., native, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jason A. Runnells, senior enlisted adviser with the 14th Trans. Bn. and a Baton Rouge, La., native, uncase their colors during a transfer of authority ceremony April 2 at Morale, Welfare and Recreation center east at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.