Story and photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Cupp
82nd Sustainment Brigade
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – For Pittsburg, Kan., native Spc. Jeremy Kelly, an automated logistics specialist with the Independence, Kan.-based 1011th Quartermaster Company of the Army Reserve, each day in the combat zone brings with it a variety of different tasks and responsibilities while working at the Bagram Air Field retrosort yard.
The 26-year-old specialist, who is a full-time college student at Pittsburg State University in his civilian life, does everything from moving equipment with forklifts and rough terrain container handler vehicles to cleaning, sorting and preparing supplies and equipment for customs inspections and getting tri-wall boxes ready for shipping equipment back to the U.S. military inventory, where ever it may be needed, as U.S. forces prepare to eventually redeploy from Afghanistan.
“I feel really great [about being able to deploy], this is something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m glad to be here,” said Kelly. “You can really see that what we do at the retrosort yard makes a difference and I like the fact that we save our government and the tax payers money by getting equipment and supplies where they need to be and to put them to good use and other purposes within the U.S. military inventory.”
“Although I do sometimes drive a forklift and RTCH, mostly my job entails keeping things clean and tidy before we ship it [equipment] back to the U.S.,” added Kelly, who is attached to the Eufaula, Ala.-based 1103rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Alabama Army National Guard. “This also includes staying on top of paperwork, making sure it’s straight, getting packing lists on boxes prior to getting the customs seal of approval.”
While working as part of the active duty Army’s Fort Bragg, N.C.-based 82nd Sustainment Brigade-U.S. Central Command Materiel Recovery Elment’s mission, Kelly’s current duties bring him in contact with soldiers who work in all of the Army’s components and Kelly said he takes pride in serving in the combat zone, not only doing his job but keeping his situational awareness.
“It’s a unique mission and we’ve all got each other’s backs,” said Kelly. “We are continually doing everything we need to do to maintain our readiness and drills that are extremely important while we’re in the combat zone.”
“One of the most important roles I have is that of being an aid giver and litter bearer,” added Kelly, while emphasizing the importance of his ability to stay combat ready. “I’m combat life saver certified, so I’m pretty confident that I could save someone’s life if necessary and to me, that’s just as important as our everyday mission.”
For his first deployment, Kelly, who has spent five years serving in the Army Reserves, makes time after work to pursue his future goals.
“Since I’m engaged, I’m working on saving for a house thinking about white picket fences, trying to spend as little money as possible, which isn’t that hard to do here in Afghanistan, especially when you don’t have to worry about living expenses during a deployment,” he said with a smile. “I also work to maintain my physical fitness, staying on top of goals that I’ve set for myself to include learning Spanish in my spare time, which is something I’ve always just wanted to do.”
“Family is very important so I also keep in touch with them as often as possible,” added Kelly. “They’re extremely supportive of me, but they’re a little anxious for me to come home.”
Kelly said he loves what he does and that working at the retrosort yard is a worthwhile experience.
“We never get bored, there’s always something going on with a variety of things to do and I feel we have one of the most interesting missions of the deployment,” he concluded.
The 82nd SB-CMRE troops like Kelly, who work at the retrosort yards on Bagram and Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, have contributed to returning more than $1 billion in equipment back to the U.S. military inventory.