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    230th Sustainment Brigade, Tennessee Army National Guard Leads Support of Exercise Saber Guardian in Eastern Europe

    230th Sustainment Brigade, Tennessee Army National Guard Leads Support of Exercise Saber Guardian in Eastern Europe

    Photo By Capt. Matthew Gilbert | Pvt. Thomas Malik Jones inspects a piece of equipment to ensure it meets the standards...... read more read more

    Over 25,000 troops from 23 nations participated, and the footprint of the operation stretched across Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.

    The large-scale exercise showcased a variety of military manuever capabilities with military units from different countries and cultures who have never met before to work together to accomplish extremely complex tasks with precision. A couple of these tasks were coordinating airborne Soldiers parachuting from planes and sophisticated artillery firing in unison.

    Cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art equipment, sophisticated training, and complex international agreements were needed to succeed in this type of exercise.

    However, all of that means nothing without the countless hard-working support troops who purchase the ability to execute these missions with their tireless hours of labor.

    The Tennessee Army National Guard’s 230th Sustainment Brigade has stepped up to the plate in Eastern Europe to fill this support role for the second year in a row, and the unit’s sweat and grit has ensured the exercise could be completed as scheduled.

    They are soldiers like Pvt. Thomas Malik Jones, a supply specialist with the 230th cleared hundreds of military vehicles through a rigid international customs inspection. Jones is in just his second year in the Tennessee Army National Guard.

    “I make sure the vehicles are up to standards when cleared through customs,” explained Jones.

    “It is the first time I have been in a leadership position. I’m just taking it as I go,” continued Jones. “It’s easy because I already have experience in this type of work on the civilian side, so I just took what I already knew and used it to the best of my ability.”

    Jones is normally a supply specialist, but was assigned to the role even though it was outside of his normal training. His leadership had complete confidence in him. Back in Tennessee, Jones distinguished himself in the Tennessee Army National Guard despite working two other jobs.

    “It’s really more hands on,” said Jones. “I like it more because it is a learning experience. I want to be a jack of all trades – I want to be as versatile as possible.”

    Spc. Dustin John Shepard, an automated logistics specialist with the 230th, also faced challenges as he was tasked with working with dozens of National Guard Soldiers from Georgia, South Dakota and North Carolina to ensure that they were able to get the job done.

    “We are making sure they are up to standard,” Shephard explained about his role. “We have been inspecting the other units and make sure everything is flowing. It’s been a really big team effort.”

    Shepard worked with soldiers like Staff Sgt. Jack Luckhurst, Staff Sgt. Seth Fredrickson, and Spc. Jimmy Holloway, all from the 1/147th Field Artillery, South Dakota Army National Guard. They pushed through even in drenching rain to ensure their vehicles comply with all international laws and regulations. Spc. Abdoulaye Sidibe, from the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard, climbed underneath sophisticated pieces of radar equipment to wash the bottom of the vehicles to guarantee every inch complied with the law.

    Frequently working 16-hour work days in temperatures soaring over 90 degrees as well as in the pouring rain, Shepard and his colleagues got the job done and kept their spirits high.

    “When else do you get to go to Romania?” exclaimed Shepard. “It’s fun, it’s different, the food is great, and they don’t get in a hurry like we do back home.”

    Both Jones and Shepard were recognized by their leadership, and explained their thoughts on the recognition with the humility you would expect from two young men simply trying to stay focused and get their job done.

    “I’m just shocked,” explained Jones. “I thought it was going to be a regular day where I was going to go to work and do what I got to do. I was surprised somebody noticed my work.”

    “It’s pretty cool to get a coin from the Brigade Commander,” stated Shepard. “I wasn’t expecting the coin we were tasked to do a job and we did it to the best of our abilities – it’s pretty nice.”



    Date Taken: 08.04.2017
    Date Posted: 08.04.2017 05:17
    Story ID: 243684

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