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Navy Customs Battalion Departs to the Middle East

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070403-24
Release Date: 4/3/2007 7:36:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Suits, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Atlantic

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Navy Reservists assigned to Navy Customs Battalion Sierra, mobilized by the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG), departed the Navy Air Terminal for the Middle East March 31, from Naval Station Norfolk in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Approximately 450 Navy Reservists, from 43 states, Guam and Puerto Rico, left Norfolk to support operations in Kuwait and Iraq.

“Our mission is to conduct free inspections of personnel, cargo and equipment to make sure it comes back to the United States free of restricted items and agricultural pests,” said Cmdr. Paul Pender Commanding Officer of Sierra.

Sierra spent March at the NAVELSG headquarters in Williamsburg, Va., preparing and training together for this mission.

“I think we are very well prepared,” said Storekeeper 1st Class Gerald Bowen. “I thought the instructors were very knowledgeable. They gave us the information we needed and gave us extra time for those who needed additional help.”

Once Sierra arrives in the Middle East, they will work in a joint environment putting their training to use.

“We will be working with the Army and the Air Force in many locations in Kuwait,” said Sierra Command Master Chief (SW) Michael Poinsett. “We’ll also inspect the war fighters coming out of theater going back to the states.”

Sierra will be deployed to the Middle East for six to seven months.

“This is a great adventure and I’m glad to be part of it,” said Senior Chief Storekeeper Brenda Polendey. “This will be my first mobilization. I want to do a great job for the Sailors in my care, my country and my beloved Navy.”

Sierra is the Navy’s fifth rotation of reservists mobilized for the customs inspection mission for Operation Iraqi Freedom. They will deploy to the Central Command area of responsibility to take over the mission from Romeo, which has been conducting the customs mission since September 2006.

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