21st Theater Support Command gets Army Superior Unit Award
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Some jobs don’t get glory but they eventually get noticed.
The 21st Theater Support Command, a far-flung group of units that came together to help carry out Operation Enduring Freedom, was presented Thursday with the Army Superior Unit Award.
The award is the highest a unit can be given during peacetime.
The group was honored for getting people, supplies and anything else to where it was needed from May 2001 to May 2002 and doing it at a superior level as decided by the secretary of the Army.
Thursday’s picnic at Rhein Ordnance Barracks was also billed as a welcome-back party for those deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
But not everyone from 21st TSC is back; some are still on the job in Iraq, Kuwait and Romania.
“Logistics is a hard business,” said Maj. Gen. William E. Mortensen, the TSC’s commanding officer. “But you didn’t have to energize these logisticians. They energized themselves.
“They understood what they were doing was critically important.”
Sgt. 1st Class Vincent E. Williams, a 39-year-old from Washington, and his Logistics G-4 Unit had recently come back from Turkey. His top priority while there, Williams said, was to see that his command stayed safe.
His second priority was to get food, fuel and ammunition to those on the front lines.
“Or else they can’t successfully do their mission,” Williams said. “They want to be able to get home safely, too.”
About 1,000 of the 7,000 members of the 21st TSC were able to make Thursday’s party. There was a tent big enough for all of them, which was a good thing. Rain canceled the softball games and other outdoor plans.
After Mortensen and Lt. Gen. Michael Dodson, deputy commander of U.S. Army Europe, finished their speeches to the troops, a banner signifying the award was attached to the 21st TSC’s flag.
Mortensen then got the biggest roar of all when he announced to the soldiers, “When you’re done eating, you’re off for the day.”
Trays of chow were put out — dogs and burgers, beans and salad, cold sodas and beer.
Mortensen said only five to 10 Army Superior Unit awards are given each year. It’s rare that a division-size group such as the 21st TSC is recognized; usually the award goes to smaller outfits.
First Lt. Chad Lauro, a 26-year-old from Harrisburg, Pa., worked in Hungary receiving and distributing food rations with his 574th Supply Company, which is based in Mannheim.
Lauro said he wished he could have been on the front line supporting the troops, but acknowledged that each job is necessary to fulfill a mission.
Lauro and his colleagues in the 21st TSC can now add a scarlet-and-green Army Superior Unit ribbon to their uniforms.
“It does feel good to be recognized, knowing the importance of logistics and what we do,” Lauro said. “Like the general said, ‘When things are going smoothly, you don’t get recognized.’ ”