FORT PICKETT, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Gate City-based 1032nd Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support group completed an international line haul mission to Canada and back Dec. 3 – 8, 2019, culminating at Fort Pickett, Virginia.
The 64-Soldier team helped Canadian Soldiers from the 34th Canadian Brigade Group move howitzers and other equipment from St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada to Fort Pickett, where about 250 Canadian soldiers will conduct a training exercise in January 2020.
The 1032nd’s 64-Soldier team departed from Abingdon, Virginia Dec. 3, 2019, taking with them 21 M915 tractors, two wreckers, one contact truck and 6 passenger vehicles. After an overnight stop at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, the convoy arrived in Quebec Dec. 5, where the began loading the Canadian artillery pieces and other equipment. They departed Canada on the 6th and, after another overnight stop in Pennsylvania, arrived safely at Fort Pickett.
Capt. Christopher Davis, the 1032nd’s commander, said the team completed the 2,000-mile journey with no major incidents, and his Soldiers were up for the task.
The unit accepted the Canada mission at short notice, only receiving the initial mission in July. In the intervening months, the team had to plan every aspect of the journey, including the border crossing.
“We completed a recon to Canada in October and coordinated with the U.S. and Canadian Border Patrols in order to facilitate a smooth border crossing both ways,” explained Davis. “This included conducting background checks on all personnel set to cross the border and pre-clearing them for entrance into Canada.”
The 1032nd had to plan every other aspect of the trip as well, including route planning and identifying fuel points along the route, plus securing meals and barracks for the transportation team.
The convoy encountered one other challenge while north of the border, when winter weather became a major travel obstacle.
“During our movement from Canada back to Fort Indiantown Gap, we encountered severe weather conditions,” said 2nd Lt. Victoria Bond. “We utilized our experience and leadership to help keep the convoy in close intervals and low speeds. We re-stacked the convoy putting the heaviest vehicles in the front to slow down the convoy speed. We successfully navigated through rain, sleet, snow, and ice, all while following safety precautions, with no accidents. We are extremely proud of our Soldiers for their performance under such harsh conditions.”
The Canadian unit’s leaders were thankful for the support of the 1032nd Transportation Company, and commended the unit’s Soldiers.
“They’re professional men and women. They’ve been supporting us since the get-go in transporting all of our equipment and our guns here,” said Lt. Rosul Khalique, an administration officer with the 34th Canadian Brigade Group. “All the logistical support they provided us was amazing.”
Davis said the successful mission benefitted his team as well.
“First, they get to experience different loads that what they’re used to,” said Davis. “Second, they get to see and do something outside the norm which can help retention. These missions benefit the unit as a whole because of the collective training we received.”