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Sailors Depart for Air Cargo Handling Mission in Iraq

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070713-19
Release Date: 7/13/2007 5:36:00 PM

By Lt. Karin R. Burzynski, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Public Affairs

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (NNS) -- Twenty-seven Sailors donned desert utility uniforms and boarded a bus in the early morning hours of July 13 to catch a military flight bound for the Middle East.

These Sailors are the third rotation of cargo handlers from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB) 1 to deploy to Iraq to relieve their shipmates who are fulfilling an air cargo-handling mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lt. Craig Bishop, officer in charge, Cargo Transfer Platoon (CTP) 3, said the Sailors have been training for this mission since April.

Predeployment training involved qualifying on various material handling equipment including the 10K Atlas, Kalmar, and 60-ton K-Loader, all of which are used in support of the Army's Airfield Departure and Arrival Control Group, according to Bishop.

All the Sailors were trained in basic, as well as, advanced air cargo with certain individuals also trained in the complex mission of load planning, communications, and hazardous materials certifiers, added Bishop.

Bishop credits the top-quality training to Chief Storekeeper Fabian Clarke, leading chief petty officer for CTP-3.

“Chief Clarke has seen to it that all training requirements have been met and that each individual knows their job and knows it well. He instills a great deal of confidence in the troops and they have responded well by meeting his high expectations,” Bishop said.

Bishop also credited CTP-3’s first class petty officers for taking care of the seemingly endless list of details that a deploying unit must complete and the unit’s high morale.

“The mood is definitely positive as everyone seems excited to have the opportunity to work in such different settings than NCHB-1 traditionally works in. Everyone is well aware of the harsh conditions working in Iraq will pose. You just can't simulate 130-plus degree working conditions so we will spend several days upon arrival attempting to adjust to the environment. Dehydration is definitely a concern, but we're aware of the risks involved in working in such extreme conditions and will be taking all necessary steps to mitigate those risks,” Bishop said.

CTP-3 will relieve their fellow NCHB-1 shipmates, who are serving in Iraq as Cargo Transfer Platoon 2. CTP-2 relieved CTP-1, which took over the mission from one of the Army’s 551st Cargo Transfer Platoons in coordinating the movement of air cargo in July 2006.

Seaman Christopher Hajek, who trained for, but did not deploy on the first mission is looking forward to deploying with CTP-3.

“This is pretty exciting,” Hajek said, adding, “This will be my first time out of the country. I’m looking forward to serving overseas.”

Continuing this mission further increases the contribution of Navy cargo handlers, said Rear Adm. Sharon H. Redpath, commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group.

“We're proud to be continuing to participate in this mission working directly for the Army. Providing combat service support through air cargo handling expertise is extremely vital to our warfighters,” Redpath said. ”Our Sailors are always training to safely, expertly and efficiently deliver equipment and supplies. This deployment is an excellent opportunity to put that training to use and operate in a joint environment."

NCHB-1 is Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group’s active-duty cargo handling battalion. NAVELSG is part of the NECC, a global force provider of adaptive force packages of expeditionary capabilities to joint warfighting commanders. NECC serves as a single functional command to centrally manage the current and future readiness, resources, manning, training, and equipping of the Navy Expeditionary Force.

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