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Soldiers with the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s Headquarters Headquarters Company, the 51st Transportation Company and the 793rd Movement Control Team load a bus Friday in Kaiserslautern as they prepare to head to nearby Ramstein Air Base where they will board planes. The three units from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command will serve 15-month tours in Iraq.

Soldiers with the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s Headquarters Headquarters Company, the 51st Transportation Company and the 793rd Movement Control Team load a bus Friday in Kaiserslautern as they prepare to head to nearby Ramstein Air Base where they will board planes. The three units from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command will serve 15-month tours in Iraq. (Steve Mraz / S&S)

Soldiers with the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s Headquarters Headquarters Company, the 51st Transportation Company and the 793rd Movement Control Team load a bus Friday in Kaiserslautern as they prepare to head to nearby Ramstein Air Base where they will board planes. The three units from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command will serve 15-month tours in Iraq.

Soldiers with the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s Headquarters Headquarters Company, the 51st Transportation Company and the 793rd Movement Control Team load a bus Friday in Kaiserslautern as they prepare to head to nearby Ramstein Air Base where they will board planes. The three units from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command will serve 15-month tours in Iraq. (Steve Mraz / S&S)

Staff Sgt. William Cooley with the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s Headquarters, Headquarters Company, stands in line Friday morning at the Rhine Ordnance Barrack’s Deployment Processing Center on the eve of a 15-month Iraq deployment. The 18th CSSB will provide logistical support – transportation, maintenance ammunition, cargo transfer, container handling and convoy security – in the northern area of Iraq.

Staff Sgt. William Cooley with the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s Headquarters, Headquarters Company, stands in line Friday morning at the Rhine Ordnance Barrack’s Deployment Processing Center on the eve of a 15-month Iraq deployment. The 18th CSSB will provide logistical support – transportation, maintenance ammunition, cargo transfer, container handling and convoy security – in the northern area of Iraq. (Steve Mraz / S&S)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Three units from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command prepared to head downrange Friday for 15-month tours in Iraq.

Roughly 200 soldiers with the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the 51st Transportation Company and the 793rd Movement Control Team gathered at Rhine Ordnance Barracks Deployment Processing Center prior to leaving from nearby Ramstein Air Base.

Some soldiers listened to iPods, watched movies and caught some Z’s as they waited around.

Spc. Chris Schwartz watched as Spc. Jeff Slater and Sgt. Craig Saunders shot a game of pool during their wait. It will be the first deployments for the three soldiers with the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion out of Grafenwöhr, Germany.

Schwartz, 21, of Sacramento, Calif., is getting an opportunity he has been waiting for.

"I’m kind of anxious," he said. "It will be my first time. I joined the Army actually to deploy, when I was 17."

The battalion headquarters will be providing logistical support — transportation, maintenance ammunition, cargo transfer, container handling, convoy security, etc. — in the northern area of Iraq, said Lt. Col. Christopher Roscoe, battalion commander.

Roscoe said the unit appreciates the support from the soldiers’ families.

"We’ve gone through a great train-up," he said. "Morale is high. We’re going to do everything we can to take care of their soldiers and get them home safely."

The 51st Transportation Company out of Mannheim is set to perform convoy security escort and transportation missions during its tour in northern Iraq.

"We’ve got a mission to do," said Capt. Joshua Kerton, 51st Transportation Company commander from Scotia, N.Y. "We know what that mission is, and it’s our job to accomplish it."

For Staff Sgt. Pelley, a squad leader with the 51st, this will be the third deployment to Iraq. He’s given some advice to younger soldiers.

"You just try to answer all their questions," said Pelley of Crosby, Texas. "The soldiers are pretty smart. They ask a lot of questions.

"You just try to get them prepared for life on the road, life away from home and just kind of let them know what kind of conveniences you’re not going to have available."


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