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"Wagonmasters" take over MND-North sustainment mission

Oct 7, 2009

By Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - The 15th Sustainment Brigade "Wagonmasters" took over the Multinational Division-North sustainment mission from 16th Sustainment Brigade in a transfer of authority ceremony at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation building here Oct. 5.

The Fort Hood-based unit's new area of responsibility spans from the Turkish border at Habur Gate to northern Baghdad, an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania.

One might say that the Wagonmasters have big boots to fill.

"During the course of the deployment in MND-N, [16th] planned and executed over 6 thousand convoy logistical patrols driving over 6 million miles delivering supplies to the war fighter. We issued out over 6 million gallons of fuel, 4.5 million bottles of drinking water, and delivered 23 thousand tons of subsistence. We handled over 40 million pounds of mail. We made facility and structural improvements across the brigade footprint to the tune of 74 completed projects valued at over $61.5 million," Col. Martin Pitts, 16th SB commander said.

Although it could be said that the 15th has a lot of work ahead of them, the command and most of the Soldiers have done this before.

"Finally, for the third time in less than 5 years, the Wagonmaster colors have been unfurled in Iraq," Col. Larry Phelps, 15th SB commander said.

"Coach, your team is ready - put us in!" he told Brig. Gen. Paul Wentz, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) commander.

"There is no better unit to replace the magnificent Soldiers of the 16th Sustainment Brigade than the 15th," Wentz said.

Phelps thanked the 16th for setting "the example of what right looks like in a sustainment Brigade" and for a smooth transition which he referred to as "professional."

"We are honored to be serving at this historic juncture in the Iraqi mission, and looking forward to working with the 264th, 515th and 395th CSSBs. Together we are an unstoppable team," Phelps said.

The Wagonmaster's mission will entail much of the same things that the 16th's did, but with one large difference.

American Soldiers are going home.

As Phelps told his Soldiers in a recent gathering, tens of thousands of Soldiers will return to the U.S. in the coming months along with all of their equipment.

The 15th is responsible for sustaining the force in MND-North, closing bases across the area, and getting Soldiers home.

Phelps was proud and wasted no time in spreading the Wagonmaster "brand," the unique 15th patch. As the TOA ceremony was underway, civilian painters marked the walls surrounding the brigade's headquarters with the 15th patch, the trademark wagon, along with other Wagonmaster markings.

Following the TOA ceremony, the Wagonmasters raised their colors, the Belton, Texas flag, and the Texas flag in a short ceremony outside of the brigade's headquarters to the song "The Eyes of Texas are Upon Us."

Belton is 15th's adopted community and the raised flag was the city's first - made specifically to be flown in Iraq.

Phelps told the group that it would be a matter of hours, not days, until the 15th patch was everywhere.

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