LaGrange, Georgia, March 2015, By WO1 Howard Seay – As the large CAT diesel engines roared to life, Soldiers donned their Kevlar. Lights, Check! Commo, Check! Staging of the convoy began. Everyone was fired up and stoked. But as the miles ticked by, adrenaline turned to calm and calm turned into sleepiness.
Drivers and Truck Commanders worked together as cohesive teams and fought to stay alert. On this mission concentration and focus were essential and compromise was not an option. Operation Patriot Bandoleer, a recently completed multi-billion dollar mission, was given to the Georgia Army National Guard (GAARNG) to move sensitive heavy cargo loads across long stretches of highway through sometimes mountainous terrain. The 1177th Transportation Company, being a unit with an excellent safety and performance track record, was the simple choice for the most difficult and longest leg of this multi-state mission. Enter the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF). The A Co. 4BN 5BDE “Road Runners” after only being stood up for 18 months are fully embedded within the 1177th TC.
With flexing personnel numbers for OPB the 1177th reached out to the GSDF for additional support. The Road Runners had just supported the 1177th TC in two missions back-to-back for 10 straight days, but one GSDF Soldier was able to continue on a third consecutive mission and went on to serve 24 total consecutive calendar days of State Active Duty. Yes, you read that right. This Soldier put in more time in a consecutive series of missions than many Soldiers of the GSDF serve in an entire year. Oh, and this was only towards the end of March 2015.
Receiving no duty pay or vacation pay from civilian employment, SSG Amber Kimble (GSDF) was in it literally for the long haul. SSG Kimble seamlessly embedded with the 1177th TC as a Truck Commander and RTO for 1,627 miles, assisting in navigation, driver’s training, safety guide, ground guide, and minor vehicle maintenance and servicing…amongst other NCO duties. She quickly became respected by her Guardsmen counterparts and even volunteered for duties and assignments that others would not take. SSG Amber Kimble was presented with a challenge coin in the field by CPT Wilson of the 110th CSSB for her “amazing patriotism to serve on both Operation Vigilant Guard 2015 and Patriot Bandoleer.” SSG Kimble proudly represented her unit and the GSDF, and continues to demonstrate the value, experience, and overall excellence that the GSDF has to offer.
Photo by: CPT Charles Westrip (GAARNG) and SSG Amber Kimble (GSDF)