When the phone call came from 1LT Phillip Lacey alerting that he had arrived back on U.S. soil, his mother, Staunton real estate agent Vonda Lacey, breathed a sigh of relief. She, along with friends, fellow realtors, and family had prayed for a year for the Virginia Military Institute graduate’s safe return from Operation Enduring Freedom.
Before leaving base camp in Afghanistan, Lacey was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor for exceptionally meritorious service during the deployment. He was also awarded the Combat Action Badge presented in special recognition of soldiers who personally engage the enemy or are engaged by the enemy during combat operations.
Lacey was one of approximately eighty soldiers who were deployed a year ago with the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and sent to the remote forward operating base at Shindand Air Base, Regional Command-West in Afghanistan. Their mission was to pioneer logistical support operations as the first U.S. combat support battalion to locate in the area and conduct operations.
Working with Italian, Spanish, Slovenian, and Afghan forces, the unit’s mission was to support U.S. and coalition forces by providing supplies, maintenance, and transportation throughout the unstable, dangerous, rugged western Afghanistan provinces of Herat, Farah, Badghis, and Ghor.
The 529th, enduring harsh weather conditions as well as the mountainous terrain, was responsible for building an expeditionary life support complex and infrastructure for the entire airbase while providing seamless sustainment operations for supported units as well a helping improve quality of life and promoting economic development in local Afghan communities.
The unit returned without loss or injury to any of the Virginia soldiers.
Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
Cross-posted at SWAC Girl