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Fort Knox's 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) has deployed before, but never like this.
The 3d ESC completed a 15-month deployment to Iraq in August 2009. Now, the unit is in Haiti. The command's Soldiers didn't expect to be deployed again so soon, but Haiti's January 12th earthquake changed all that.
"The minute I saw it on the news, what was happening, I looked at my wife and said, 'We're gonna go. The 3d ESC will be needed,' and a few days later, here we are," said 3d ESC Inspector General and Atlanta, Ga. native Maj. Lee Kemp.
The 3d ESC's deputy commander, Col. Jerrold Reeves, also from Atlanta, says the unit was called upon because of the expertise its Soldiers gained in Iraq.
"Now we're on the ground linking providers from all over the world, handing the Haitian people food, water, shelter as they seek to reset their lives," said Reeves.
Currently, however, the ESC is transitioning to its more traditional role of sustaining American forces operating in the country as well as standing-by to assist the international relief effort and Haitian government, if asked.
Maj. Kemp is excited about the chance to help the Haitian people.
"We are in a unique position in the world to do amazing things so this is a great opportunity."
It's a sentiment shared by Soldiers across the command, regardless of rank.
Ider, Alabama native and 3d ESC paralegal Sgt. Matthew Sullivan says, "I don't see how we could fail. There's zero possibility that we're not going to improve the situation."
While the ESC is still managing logistics and distributing supplies, the same basic mission it had in Iraq, this is the first time the unit is deployed as part of a humanitarian relief effort.
"It's a different mission. It's an opportunity to learn a different set of skills," says Sullivan.
Spec. Joshua Hayes, a McKinney, Tx. native who works in communications for the 3d ESC, had only been with the unit five months when he boarded a plane to deploy to Haiti, not quite what he expected when he arrived at his first permanent duty station.
"I expected a lot of time with the unit to learn the job and now I'm learning the job when it's needed," said Hayes.
Shortly after arriving in Haiti, Hayes was at the port helping the Navy set up satellite communications. He says that that trip helped him understand the importance of the ESC's mission in Haiti.
"Tent cities everywhere, pigs were roaming the streets...a lot of buildings were resting on cars," recalls Hayes. "These people really need our help."
And help is what the unit is in Haiti do to. Like the 3d ESC's mission statement says, "any mission, anywhere."