Gov. Brian Sandoval, along with family, friends and members of the Nevada Army National Guard, had waited for this moment for 11 months.
The state’s commander in chief for the Nevada Military Department officially welcomed home a company that returned home two weeks ago after a deployment to Afghanistan.
Although the 593rd Transportation Co., with detachments in Elko, Winnemucca and Las Vegas, returned to Nevada on April 19, Saturday morning’s ceremony marked the reconstitution of the unit back into the Nevada Army National Guard. The 593rd TC was the only Nevada unit that has deployed to both Iraq (2006) and now Afghanistan, and soldiers assigned to the unit come from every corner of the Silver State.
Maj. Carsten Hall said the 593rd TC supported Operation Enduring Freedom, and during its time at Forward Operating Base Phoenix, which is about seven miles from the center of the capital Kabul, the company transported equipment and personnel and provided some convoy security in the Kabul cluster. During its deployment, the company conducted more than 230 tactical missions.
Sandoval, who delivered remarks on a cold, windy day on May 25, 2012, at the company’s deployment ceremony, said he, along with friends and families, looked forward to Saturday.
“We were able to check in briefly,” he said. “At the governor’s banquet last year, (which was held in support of the Family Readiness Group), as we were able to Skype some of you from Reno, there were about 300 to 400 people there strong and giving you a standing ovation.”
Sandoval said the live transmission from Afghanistan was both emotional and touching, especially for company commander Capt. Curt Kolvet’s wife, Kendra, who was able to see her husband.
“Not only do just the men and women in uniform make sacrifices for our country, but all of you military families do as well.”
The governor, who has attended every deployment and Yellow Ribbon ceremony, commended the 127 soldiers for their service to the state and country; furthermore, Sandoval said the company is a true representation of the state because of where the detachments are located. He also saluted Sgt. 1st Class Heather Harris, who is originally from Truckee but living in Reno, for completing her fourth deployment in a combat zone — three to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. His comment drew a round of applause for Harris.
Sandoval also commended the history of the company, citing its work in evacuating Fernley residents in January 2008 when the Truckee Canal breached, sending thousands of gallons of water into the streets of several residential areas.. The governor also said the company has received two combat streamers and earned the Governor’s Outstanding Unit Award. He said the unit’s accomplishments are especially impressive.
Before he concluded his remarks, he cited the leadership of Capt. Kolvet and 1st Sgt. Harry Schroeder for taking the unit successfully to and back from Afghanistan.
Brig. Gen. Bill Burks, the adjutant general, recognized both the company and their families, calling them both superstars.
Burks echoed Sandoval’s comments that the company’s leadership return every soldier home safely. The adjutant general visited two Nevada guard units in Afghanistan in October, including the 593rd TC. He said the unit adjusted quickly to Camp Phoenix and also assisted the Bulgarian Army to make their vehicles “top notch.”
Brig. Gen. Frank Gonzales, commander of the Army Guard, said deploying is difficult for both soldiers and families.
“Deployments are not easy — one of the worst things and away from your family, away from your community,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Roland Cates of Fallon said he is happy to return to a “normal” life.
“It’s great to be home,” he said. “The last few months (before returning home) were slow. But it was a good deployment.”
Spc. Kyle Freitas of Gardnerville, whose parents in live in Carson City, said the Yellow Ribbon ceremony puts closure on the deployment.
When the company left Afghanistan and arrived at Fort Hood, Texas, for outprocessing, Freitas said the procedure was smooth.
“It was longer than I expected” Freitas said
Once he arrived home, though, he said his parents took his family out for dinner.
As for Saturday’s ceremony, Freitas was impressed with the work that went into it, and the dignitaries there.
“It was awesome to see the governor and Gen. Burks come out,” he added.