Welcome home: 495th returns from deployment to Afghanistan

March 18, 2019

The 495th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion is home again. Sixty-seven soldiers arrived at the Glacier Jet Center late Saturday night to cheers and tears, and hugs from family and gathered loved ones.

As they exited the plane into the dark and cold they immediately began scanning the sea of gathered faces for the ones of particular significance to them. At the bottom of the plane exit ramp they were met by several dignitaries including Gov. Steve Bullock, U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, the Adjutant General of Montana Maj. Gen. Matthew Quinn, Command Sgt. Maj. Tom Mooney, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Julie Vaquero and their own Brigade Commander Lt. Col. Renea Doorbell with a handshake and a formal thank you for a job well done. After which they were released to long overdue hugs and sweet reunions.

The night was filled with photos and reunion videos and kisses and hugs and all the intensity of homecoming after almost 10 months of separation.

The 495th deployed to Afghanistan in May 2018 for another tour. They had been deployed before in 2012-13.

“This mission was so much different from the 2012-13 deployment based on mission requirements,” said Cpt. Dan Bushnell of the 495th.

In the 495th’s previous deployment, the unit was responsible for 350 tactical convoy operations throughout the region. This time the unit was responsible for a variety of tasks that ranged from food, water and fuel supply, to managing contractors, even doing work that would be described as “mayoral.”

The 495th was responsible for the largest ammunition supply point in Afghanistan, holding $130 million worth of ammunition. Capt. Bushnell said that while they were in charge this one particular piece of ordinance was not on site, but their base is the same one that had once housed the famous “MOAB,” the Mother Of All Bombs.

Collectively their mission involved running the Central Issue Facility, which takes care of all uniform needs for the Army everywhere in Afghanistan. They were providing base life support and getting the soldiers fed, taking care of water distribution, and were responsible for thousands and thousands of gallons of fuel.

About half of the soldiers were stationed in Bagram, about 60 miles north of Kabul, while the rest were stretched out across the country. Locations included: Pamir near Kunduz in the north, Forward Operating Base Fenty near Gardez south of Kabul, Forward Operating Base Gambrei in the eastern region of Mitarlam, Forward Operating Base Lightning in Paktia Province, Camp Marmal in the Mazar-e Sharif district in the north, and Forward Operating Base Shank in the Logar Province.

“Every day I was amazed by these soldiers,” said Capt. Bushnell. “We have soldiers who don’t get wrapped up around the axel. You tell them what you need done and they will go and execute all day long. Soldiers from Montana continually exceed expectations and they do it very humbly. I’m proud to serve with them.”