FORT HOOD, Texas –
The 497th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), based out of Salem, Virginia, returned to the United States from an eight-month deployment Jan. 17, 2023.
The 38th Regional Support Group Command Sgt. Maj. Derek Andrasic and the deputy commanding officer of the 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Col. Eric Wilson welcomed approximately 70 Soldiers with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) back home. Fort Hood’s mobilization support brigade also sent representatives to welcome the unit back. Most of the Soldiers returned to their respective homes within the week after completing their out-processing requirements.
The battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Tim Crispin and Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Salas, led Task Force Renegade April 2022 to January 2023 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield in four separate countries: Syria, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait.
During their time abroad, the 497th CSSB logistically supported allied countries and sister services to aid in the fight against ISIS and enable stability in the Middle East. Task Force (TF) Renegade, an element of approximately 1,000 Soldiers, delivered life and mission essential items, such as water, fuel, blood, repair parts, and major end items to over 5000 individuals across Jordan, Iraq and Syria via ground and aerial transportation. According to the support operations officer-in-charge, Maj. Roberto Rodriguez, TF Renegade completed 66 transportation missions, delivering approximately $300 million worth of equipment with a 100 percent success rate.
Of the major successes identified by Rodriguez, Master Sgt. Martin Grubb’s contribution and knowledge made one of the largest and longest-lasting impact within their Middle Eastern footprint. Grubb reviewed and analyzed various areas of operations within Syria, under the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), prior to sending a correlating white-paper analysis up through the higher theater sustainment command to the United States Army Central (ARCENT). Upon receipt of the six-page analysis, Lt. Gen. Patrick Frank, ARCENT commander, requested a sit-down conversation with Grubb to discuss the needed improvements in the Iraqi and Syrian regions for military service members and how to implement those improvements.
Because of the attention to detail, care, and teamwork of Grubb and ARCENT, the 10th Mountain Division and other sister services received healthier food options and a cleaner food preparation area. He additionally found a permanent solution for a poorly-constructed makeshift fuel supply system. Grubb credits his successes and vast skill sets inherent to Army Reservists due to the civilian and military balance that is unseen within the active-duty component.
The 497th CSSB command team also praised Spc. Gabriel Laralara, a generator mechanic, for his large contributions to the U.S. and international military units located in Kuwait, Syria, and Iraq. Being one of the only generator mechanics serving the military within the Middle East, he personally saved the military an estimated $300,000 fixing generators and air conditioning units, the latter being a civilian skill set learned as an HVAC technician.
Salas vocalized pride of all his 497th CSSB Soldiers deployed under his leadership. He saw them instrumentally bettering their task force, the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, and allied nations. On a more fundamental level, he saw his Soldiers come together as a team, overcoming personality differences to build trust with one another for the mission. Salas believes that trust and cohesion will drive the 497th CSSB’s mission set back home and set the bar for excellence.