On May 1, 2011, Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard's 1138th Transportation Company assembled in the Mehlville High School gym for the unit's departure ceremony. Next week, the unit will return to St. Louis after a 10-month convoy operations deployment to Afghanistan. (Bill Phelan photo)
FORT BLISS, Texas - Soldiers of the Missouri Army National Guard's 1138th Transportation Company are back on U.S. soil after arriving at Fort Bliss, Texas last night ending a 10-month convoy operations mission in Afghanistan.
Based at historic Jefferson Barracks in south St. Louis County, the 1138th is expected back in St. Louis sometime next week for a rousing and emotional welcome home ceremony with hundreds of family and friends.
"I am so excited I can't stand it," said Michelle Moses, of Troy, the wife of Spc. Daniel Moses. "I spoke to Daniel on the phone (Thursday) and happy tears came."
After being deployed last May, about 165 Soldiers of the unit underwent two months of intensive combat and convoy operations training before departing for Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan. From there, the 1138th ran more than 90 convoy operations missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, delivering crucial supplies valued at $2.7 billion to forward operating bases across austere and treacherous terrain. As part of Task Force 142, the unit also escorted more than 4,900 Afghan national trucks carrying critical supplies and vehicles in support of units throughout eastern Afghanistan. All told, 1138th missions covered a combined individual total of 847,000 miles driven.
Before departing from Afghanistan last week, more than a dozen 1138th Soldiers were awarded the Bronze Star, including unit commander, Maj. Jamie P. Melchert, of Columbia. In addition, more than 100 Soldiers received the Army Commendation Medal and all Soldiers of the unit were awarded the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
The 1138th is a subordinate unit of the 311th Brigade Support Battalion, headquartered in Lexington, Mo. Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Terri L. Oswald, is thrilled to have the 1138th back home and proud of what they accomplished while deployed.
"The 1138th operated under harsh conditions providing convoy security in an area of Afghanistan heavily fortified with improvised explosive devices," Oswald said. "Their mission was intense, with convoy operations almost every day. Being on those roads was dangerous and daunting."
Oswald praised the 1138th leadership for brining every Soldier home.
"The best thing is that every Soldier is coming home and that's what we all pray for," she said. "To have every Soldier come home alive is a testament to the leadership of Maj. Melchert and to his officers and noncommissioned officer corps."
Equally pleased was Moses and her three children, Monica, 14, Devin, 10, and Alyssa, 7.
"I am so glad Daniel is back in the United States," she said. "This has been the longest year ever, especially the last four months. It was extremely tough on our family."
The 1138th is tentatively scheduled to return to St. Louis on May 5. A welcome home ceremony for the unit is being planned at the First Free Church in Ballwin.
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