101st ESB conducts largest commercial airlift Bliss has seen in years
Claudia R. Kennedy,
DoMaD Public Affairs:
More than 450 National Guard Soldiers of the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion from New York state and New Jersey arrived at Fort Bliss Aug. 19 to conduct pre-deployment training.
The unit arrived with a large amount of specialized communications equipment such as satellites, nodes, generators, trucks and containers of accessories required for training to conduct their mission in Afghanistan. As the unit conducts their mobilization training at McGregor Range, the 101st ESB unit movement team works double-time preparing for the largest strategic commercial airlift Fort Bliss has seen in years.
Capt. David Myones, 101st ESB unit movement officer, worked hand in hand with Kevin Williams, unit movement coordinator for the Directorate of Mobilization and Deployment, as well as the Fort Bliss Unit Movement Branch, to ensure proper training, planning and execution of this gargantuan task.
Williams, who has worked in his position at Fort Bliss for seven years, said this is the largest commercial airlift DoMaD and Fort Bliss has seen since a patriot battalion deployed in 2003. In order to ensure that the unit met the short suspense between mobilization training and their latest arrival date into theater, Williams worked 10 to 14 hours a day for almost two weeks, including weekends, training and assisting the 101st with all the meticulous and time-consuming prep work.
“On military aircraft, you can simply roll in the equipment or drive it right into the plane, chain it down, and off it goes,” said Williams.
On commercial aircraft, all the equipment must be placed on pallets and chained down before it can be loaded on the plane. Height and weight requirements are different for military aircraft. Equipment must go through a joint inspection process where crews check fuel levels, equipment tie-downs, hazardous materials, and vehicle weight to determine the center of balance.
The 101st received eight commercial 747 aircraft and one military C-5 aircraft, which was required because some of their specialized equipment exceeded the height restrictions on the commercial carriers. The unit loaded all the cargo onto the planes and departed out of Biggs Army Airfield the last few weeks of September to commence their tour in Afghanistan providing critical signal support to all units in theater.
Col. Greg Dreisbach, battalion commander for the 101st ESB, presented Williams with a carved wooden plaque Sept. 27 for his contributions and assistance to their unit ensuring all their critical communications equipment got shipped properly and on time.
“Our mission is very critical,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Bien of the 101st ESB. “If these units don’t have communications, they can’t accomplish their mission. We take our mission very seriously.”
“We have so many good Soldiers that are anxious to go serve their country. We’re so proud of them,” said Dreisbach. “Morale is very high. Soldiers are trained, ready and eager to go.”
This is the first deployment in 60 years for the 101st ESB since the Korean War. Sgt. Carlos Alvarez, an all-wheel mechanic from Yonkers, is one of the first in the battalion to deploy on the first commercial strat air flight.
“It is a big honor to be a part of something so big and make a difference,” said Alvarez.
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