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Back home ... some SDDC Reserve units return home from overseas duty.

Homecoming was sweet for the Soldiers in two Surface Deployment and Distribution Command transportation units who spent a year working port operations in Kuwait.

Members of the 1181st Transportation Terminal Battalion, Meridian, Miss., and the 91st Cargo Documentation Detachment, Fort Eustis, Va., were welcomed back home in a formal ceremony June 7. The Soldiers are among 1,900 Reservists mobilized to support SDDC in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The two units helped manage and direct the movement of more than 149,000 pieces of cargo on more than 150 vessel loads at the port of Ash Shuaiba, Kuwait, according to Sgt. 1st Class John Temple, the 91st's commander.

Among those greeting the returning Soldiers was Col. Robert Askey, chief of SDDC's Plans, Readiness and Mobilization Directorate.

"These soldiers are the first from SDDC, active or reserve, to pull the full 365 days boots-on-the-ground in theater," said Askey.

"They traveled far from home and family to serve their country. Their role was invaluable to mission success."

Families were happy to see their returning Soldiers.

Jeannette Williams and her family drove 14 hours from Meridian, Miss., to greet her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Milford Williams.

"I was six months pregnant with Mia when he was mobilized," Jeannette Williams said. "On the night of June 3, the unit left for Kuwait and I had Mia the next morning."

One-year-old Mia Williams quickly became reacquainted with her father, who saw her for the first time when he returned home on leave in August 2003.

Also on hand to greet the Soldiers was Mabel Taylor-Temple, wife of the 91st commander.

Taylor-Temple, an Army Reservist who has served in Afghanistan, knows first-hand the importance of the Army's mission in Southwest Asia.

"I know that the Iraqi people appreciate us there, but it seems like the American people only see the bad things," she said.

"We have built schools for girls in Afghanistan, and we're feeding the people and distributing items to children in Iraq. I know in my heart that what we're doing is good, and we do it well."

As the Soldiers made the final steps to return to civilian life, an 1181st member, Maj. Wilmer Moore, summarized the unit's work in the past 18 months and 17 days.

"The 1181st was the first Reserve unit mobilized in the first Gulf War," said Moore, a Reserve officer who was assimilated into the SDDC as a public affairs officer. "The unit is known as being one of the most effective within SDDC.

"Four days after 9/11 we were loading ships in Charleston, S.C., and during this time we had a pretty good feeling it wouldn't be too long before we received the call for a longer period," said Moore, who in civilian life is the director of housing and residence life at Meridian Community College.

The 1181st conducted SDDC's first load out lot Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force out of San Diego in March 2002.

"This has been a long and hard deployment, but it just validated us as one of the best, if not the best, port operators in the nation."

Both the 1181st and 91st became part of history March 2 when they moved cargo simultaneously on five Military Sealift Command ships at Ash Shuaiba. The ships included four Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off vessels, USNS Sisler, USNS Fisher, USNS Red Cloud, and USNS Mendonca and the Fast Sealift Ship USNS Antares.

Three of the Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off vessels were discharging and a fourth was loading. This sets a record for the number of Nimitz-size ships actively working at any port at one time.

In addition, the USNS Antares was discharging cargo at the port.

The shipments were part of more than 300 vessel operations conducted by the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command between December and May. The shipments are the biggest since World War II.

by Patti Bielling, Public Affairs Specialist SDDC Operations Center
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Title Annotation:Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
Author:Bielling, Patti
Publication:Translog
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2004
Words:660
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