Capt. Kevin Nordby talks about final preparations in Gray. Lee Talbert photo.
More than 100 soldiers will depart from the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Gray next week for eventual service overseas.
The Tennessee Army National Guard’s 730th Quartermaster Company will leave July 5 for Camp Shelby, Miss., before heading overseas.
This is the second deployment of Tennessee Guard soldiers from the Gray armory in less than a month with the 176th Combat Support Service Battalion having deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on June 13.
The 132 soldiers from Gray and Erwin that comprise the 730th have been at the armory for about one week and will officially begin their mobilization Saturday.
About 25 or so soldiers are studying water treatment and fuel services skills in classes away from the armory.
The 730th will provide fueling, water, supply, maintenance and war operations services working out of a post that will support the war in Iraq. Security reasons prevent the National Guard from giving specific destinations of its units.
This will be the 730th’s second deployment since the war began in March 2003, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Ward, commanding officer of the 34 soldiers from Erwin attached to the 730th.
“This unit deployed in the actual ground war in 2003 and this is actually the second deployment for a lot of people,” Ward said.
Some of the 730th’s soldiers are veterans of other wars.
“We have a handful,” Ward said. “We even have two Vietnam veterans, and I bet 75 percent have been to the second Iraqi war, the ground war in 2003.”
The unit was originally scheduled to leave on Saturday, but the July 4 holiday intervened.
“We were tentatively to leave on the 30th to go to Shelby but they’re allowing us to stay with our family for the Fourth and we’ll fly out on the 5th (of July) for Camp Shelby in Mississippi,” he said.
Capt. Kevin Nordby, the 730th’s commanding officer, said arranging a few extra days for the troops to enjoy July 4 with their families was not difficult.
“It’s really not too hard to arrange,” Nordby said. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve been pushing so hard to get our equipment loaded earlier in the week.”
With the equipment loaded, the men and women should be able to spend the holiday with their families via a day pass.
A lot of the soldiers going on this deployment were with the 2nd Squadron, 278th Regimental Combat Team, which deployed in 2004 and returned in November 2005. They volunteered for duty with the 730th.
Ward said he thought the quality of soldiers is what leads to high volunteerism like that shown of the 278th.
“I tell you the attitudes are great,” Ward said. “People are ready to go do their jobs. You couldn’t ask for attitudes to be better.”
The 730th helped establish a lot of logistical support centers when the war was young. Those centers have become massive forward operating bases, Nordby said.
“I look forward to seeing the changes,” he said. “How it’s evolved from the time we were there in ’03.”
The unit’s family readiness group will begin decorating the facility on Saturday for the group’s departure.
Nordby said the family readiness group is essential to the functioning of the unit.
“You know, you need that support from your family,” he said. “It makes soldiers’ jobs that much easier when you have support for the families.”