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Category: 96th Troop Command


Transportation companies return

About 170 Washington National Guard soldiers arrived home Tuesday from a yearlong mobilization, during which they hauled cargo to American military bases across Iraq.

The soldiers from the 1161st Transportation Company and the 1041st Transportation Company arrived at Sea-Tac and Spokane airports, where they were met friends and family.

The companies – which formed Task Force 1161st in Iraq – are based in Ephrata and Spokane but have soldiers from across the state. They drove tractor-trailers on long-haul missions, hauling more than 31.4 million pounds of cargo and delivering 71,000 pallets of water.

The soldiers mobilized for federal service

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After long haul, time to relax

Photo by Joe Barrentine/The News Tribune
Photo by Joe Barrentine/The News Tribune

TALLIL, Iraq – Fruit-flavored tobacco, near beer, salsa music, a bonfire and dancers wearing reflective belts.

Call it deployment downtime.

Five Washington National Guard soldiers serving with a transportation company spent Monday night unwinding after an eight-hour long haul at a pizza joint called 6Pazzi that serves as the center of Contingency Operating Base Adder’s social scene. They took long drags off hookahs, munched on pepperoni pizza, sipped non-alcoholic Budweiser and imported soft drinks and cracked jokes.

“Whenever we go out on a long one,” Staff Sgt. Rick Garces of Quincy said, “we try to hang out a bit and relax. And this place is pretty fun.”

By Iraq standards, 6Pazzi offered soldiers the closest thing to a bar scene they’ve found. Strings of colored lights hung from the 15-foot concrete T-walls. The restaurant’s employees fed wooden pallets into a raging fire pit. Speakers thumped music, and a clearing amid the plastic tables served as a dance floor. The bar inside was stocked with bottles of mineral water and mixers that looked convincingly similar to fifths of liquor at first glance.
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