By Spc. Kiyoshi Freeman
3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – New York Army National Guardsmen received a Christmas surprise over the holidays: a visit from their governor, representatives and even reporters bearing gifts.
On Dec. 21, 2008, New York Gov. David Paterson and Congressional Representatives Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens, N.Y.) and Steve Israel (Democrat, Long Island, N.Y.) handed out Yankee and Mets baseball caps during a lunch with Soldiers from the Brooklyn-based 133rd Quartermaster Company, 371st Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary),at Al Asad Air Base's Dining Facility 1.
According to an article in the "Daily News," Paterson said he was "overwhelmed" by the response he received from service members.
He went on to say, "The least we can do is come over and bring them some gifts, and tell them how much the American people, in particular New Yorkers, are behind them."
They were not the only Quartermaster Company's holiday guests.
Reporters Marvin Scott and Jill Nicolini from WPIX, a New York City television station, spent the holidays with the Soldiers – and they didn't come empty handed. Along with gifts of DVD players and Toby Keith-singing teddy bears, New York-style cheesecake and hot dogs, the reporters also brought pre-recorded holiday greetings from Gov. Paterson, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Soldiers friends and families.
"I'm energized by it because it's not often in this business we get to tell such positive, uplifting stories and to show our support of our courageous men and women of the military," Scott said in a prepared statement on the WPIX Web site. "We're letting our neighbors - our citizen Soldiers - know they haven't been forgotten this holiday season."
The 133rd QM Co. is responsible for several important sustainment operations at Al Asad, said 1st Sgt. Henry Mack, the company first sergeant, from Brooklyn. The unit runs a class I and class III logistics yard, providing everything from food for the troops to fuel for convoys and helicopters. In addition, the Soldiers manage a water purification and distribution site.
"As a quartermaster unit, the quartermaster motto is 'supporting victory,' and that's what we do," said Capt. Tony Plata, 133rd QM Co. commander, from Bronx, N.Y.
The 133rd QM Co. had to do a lot of adapting to accomplish their mission, Plata said. The unit was initially made up almost entirely of clerks, some of whom had to retrain as fuelers and water purification experts.
"The guys have definitely stepped up to the plate and show they're capable," he said. "We can definitely help out the regular Army any time we're called."
Plata said spending the holidays in Iraq was both the most memorable and the most difficult experience in his deployment. It helped, though, to see they were not forgotten, and to get a small taste of home – even if the media did neglect to bring any New York pizza, he said with a smile.
"It was great to have Marvin and Jill [the reporters], the governor out here, the two representatives, to show support for the New York National Guard," Plata said. "It definitely brought a smile to everyone's face."
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This work, New York Sustainers get a Christmas surprise, by SPC Kiyoshi Freeman, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.