Capt. Christopher Yell of Elko became the new commander on Saturday of the Nevada Army National Guard’s 593rd Transportation Company, which returned home in April from a deployment to Afghanistan.
Yell, an underground electrician for Newmont Mine in Elko, took over the company from Maj. Kurt Kolvet of Reno after a change of command ceremony at the Washoe Armory. The transportation company, with headquarters in Reno and detachments in Elko, Winnemucca and Las Vegas, became Nevada’s first unit to deploy to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Gov. Brian Sandoval called the unit at its mobilization ceremony in May 2012 a true Nevada company since soldiers represent many of Nevada’s communities.
Yell served as both the operations officer and executive officer for the 593rd Transportation Co., at Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, on the outskirts of Kabul. Yell said he occasionally stepped in to run the company if Kolvet was called outside the camp for a meeting or mission.
Before joining the Nevada Army National Guard, Yell served in the U.S. Navy in the Seabees. After a break in service, he joined the Nevada Guard and completed Officer Candidate School and received his commission in 2005 before attending the Officer Basic Course in transportation at Ft. Eustis, Va.
Yell grew up in Shreveport, La., but moved to Nevada after his Navy days. He said the deployment to Afghanistan was what he expected to prepare him for command. He said every day was on-the-job training at Camp Phoenix.
Lt. Col. Eric Wishart, commander of the 757th CBT Sustainment Support Battalion, commended both men for their dedication and work with the transportation unit, which is gradually transitioning into a new mission. Wishart said both the U.S. Army and National Guard are moving into an environment that has changes in resources and missions from wartime to domestic. He also touted the new Nevada Army Guard training facility east of Carlin and what it enhances for soldier readiness.
Wishart’s comments turned to Kolvet, a full-time guardsman, who had commanded the company for 40 months.
“You had a tough tour and tough decision had to be made,” Wishart said, adding he was impressed in the manner in which Kolvet took care of his soldiers on deployment.
Wishart told Yell he has an “amazing” opportunity to become the new company commander.
“You have the ability and fortitude to do the job,” Wishart said, urging Yell to continue the quality training that has been a hallmark for the 593rd.
In addition to recognizing the commanders, Wishart thanked the unit’s Family Readiness Group and how it ensured all families around the state were helped before and after the deployment.
In his prepared remarks, Kolvet deferred the praise of his command to the men and women who served for him and to those friends and family members that supported the unit during their deployment. He said the people in Winnemucca and Elko were very proud and patriotic of their units.
Kolvet praised the soldiers for their hard, dangerous work in Afghanistan in which heavily armored vehicles drove into Kabul on a regular basis.
“I can’t take credit for what the unit accomplished during the last 40 months” Kolvet said. “You did it alone and allowed me to be part of it.”
Yell said he is looking forward to transition to internal or domestic missions. He said the Carlin facility will provide more resources for training and will give the company the ability to cross train with other units traveling through northeastern Nevada.
Yell said Kolvet and Col. Dan Waters, commander of the 991st Troop Command, were instrumental in his command progression.
“They molded me into taking this command, and I was put into leadership positions of platoon leader and XO,” Yell said.