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    Pennsylvania Guard Soldiers train at Iowa’s Sustainment Training Center

    Pennsylvania Guard Soldiers train at Iowa’s Sustainment Training Center

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Samantha Hircock | Soldiers with Company A, 628th Aviation Support Battalion, Pennsylvania Army National...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Samantha Hircock 

    135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    Soldiers with Company A, 628th Aviation Support Battalion, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, conducted distribution operations including refueling and resupply, water distribution, convoys, and logistical transport during a rotation at the Army Sustainment Training Center at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa, from June 1-16, 2023.

    Distribution operations are vital to the success of the U.S. military at every level, ensuring functionality of supply chains even in demanding conditions such as combat.

    “We’re a very young distribution company,” said Capt. Colin Myers, commander of Company A, 628th ASB. “So, this is really a first opportunity for a lot of these Soldiers to come away from home. Their morale while they’re training here shows how much they appreciate the opportunity to be here at the STC and for what Iowa has to offer for logistics planning and input.”

    The STC at Camp Dodge serves as the Army National Guard’s primary training center for sustainment units and has the capability to adapt training and evaluations to a unit’s needs.

    “The [STC’s] ability to adapt training is just incredible,” said Myers. “There’s a different set of obstacles [than the Soldiers are accustomed to] and that’s able to enhance our overall progress within individual training and in our collective tasks.”

    The STC provided vehicles such as the M1120 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck Load Handling System, a versatile military truck which can be outfitted to perform various duties. Cadre set up field locations for the unit to pick up flat-racks of cargo and water storage tanks, as well as field and combat scenarios for the unit to navigate while executing their mission.

    For some of the Soldiers, the training at Camp Dodge is a first full-scale experience of the roles they could fill during combat operations and the chance to use their specialized skills.

    “We’re getting training we don’t usually get back home,” said Spc. Jessica Sheehan, a water treatment specialist with Company A, 628th ASB, who chose her specialty because of her inclination toward environmental studies. “Since I don’t get to practice my [military occupation specialty] at home too much, it’s definitely brought more insight and familiarization with our equipment, and it makes me happy because I like being able to feel comfortable in those skills.”

    The Soldiers weren’t intimidated by the realistic, high-intensity scenarios STC cadre challenged them with. Whether they were dealing with notional injuries, reacting to improvised explosive devices, or providing security for refueling missions, they focused on growing in their skills.

    “Definitely the convoy planning has been valuable,” said Cpl. Scott Vaught, a motor transport operator with Company A, 628th ASB. “Most of us have never done convoy planning to this extent, so seeing how it’s done and doing it ourselves, being able to plan everything around restrictions and planning a route—I think that’s been a big learning experience. We’ve messed up along the way, but we’ve been corrected and learned from it and now we can create convoy routes that don’t have those same issues.”

    Vaught, who recently graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, said that his grandfather’s service as a driver during the Korean War is part of what inspired him to join and choose his specialty.

    Vaught described how the various specialties of the Soldiers in the unit all contribute to the overall mission, but the chance to fulfill the roles they might experience during combat — convoy commander, security officer, load master — was an especially invaluable experience.

    Beyond the practical benefits of realistic training, the rotation at STC provided an opportunity for Soldiers to grow as a team.

    “The interactions, the teambuilding in a different environment creates a different mindset than just being told what to do; [it’s asking them to think for themselves],” said 1st Sgt. Joseph Soda, with Company A, 628th ASB. “That interaction within their platoons and with the other platoons, they all have to work together while being in a field mindset. So, that’s very rewarding.”

    The training provided by the STC was designed to escalate in intensity, testing not only the skills the Soldiers arrived with but also those they gained during their experience.

    “We’re very fortunate to be here and to receive this training,” said Myers. “It’s going to help develop continuity within the company, develop the experience of the young Soldiers we have, and we can build upon that in the future years going ahead.”



    Date Taken: 06.15.2023
    Date Posted: 06.16.2023 08:37
    Story ID: 447239
    Location: JOHNSTON, IA, US
    Hometown: ANNVILLE, PA, US
    Hometown: PHILADELPHIA, PA, US
    Hometown: POTTSTOWN, PA, US
    Hometown: YORK, PA, US

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