By Tim Williams

BALTIMORE (WJZ) –When you think “Army Reserve,” you probably don’t associate it with boats. But one local unit serves its missions on the water.

More than 30 soldiers are being deployed to the Middle East, and as Tim Williams explains, they are sailing to their destination in Kuwait.

It is the U.S. Army’s largest powered watercraft, and now Major General Robert Smalls will transport more than 30 troops from Maryland to Kuwait.

Soldiers of the 203rd Transportation Detachment are very unique. They are an Army Reserve unit that serves on a ship.

“Some of the crew have been over to the Middle East on other vessels. Some of them are experienced mariners on the commercial side, but this is the first time a vessel and crew have gone over to perform this mission,” said Brigadier General Peter S. Lennon.

It’s the first time deploying for Sergeant Marlon Marner, who gave his family a tour of the place he’ll make his home for the next year.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people, going to new places and making new friends. And the most important part… coming back home,” he said.

For many of the soldiers this is their first deployment. But the preparation has not only been theirs, it’s been their families as well.

“I think it’ll be fine. I mean, it’ll be hard with him not here, but with the support system they offer it’ll be fine,” said Marner’s wife, Kimberly.

The logistics support vessel is named for a civil war hero and former slave who later served 5 terms in Congress.

It’s an honor to sail, say those leaving, and a thrill to see it return for families hurrying for it to get back.

Members of the unit are expected to return between nine months and one year from today.

Comments (21)
  1. pvt snuffy says:

    We honor our md military but the 1729 out md takes 177 to texas for a year long mission in iraq and is refused their four day pass because of their incompetent commander thanks md brass for send our guys out with lack of leadership

    1. A soldier's wife says:

      As a wife of one of the 1729th soldiers, I completely agree. I believe that it is deplorable, shameful, and heartless not to give a well deserved pass. How can one demand respect without giving respect?!

  2. A soldier's daughter says:

    I agree with both of you. MY father is in the 1729th unit and it’s unfair that I can’t even go down to Texas to see him before they deploy to Iraq. Even if it is only four days, I would still like to spend some more time with him.

  3. Katherine Johnson says:

    A soldier’s mother
    I am the mother of a soldier in the 1729th unit and I whole heartedly agree with the other comments. I was hoping to a least get an opportunity to see my son before he is deployed to Iraq. Not only do I think it is unfair to the soldier and his/her family I also feel that these young men and women are serving their country voluntarily. Therefore some consideration should be given. If it is the fault of the incompentent commander, and I am sure it is, then something should be done about that situation. Is 4 days to much to ask for when you consider how long they are going to be deployed? It seems to me that the soldiers are being punished for the incompetence of the commander. My question is why?

  4. Carol says:

    Calm down people! This should not be a shock to everyone. I am sure there is a good reason for the decisions that are being made. I am sure that the blasting of the commander in charge will NOT change a thing except make it harder on the true persons who are affected the SOLDIERS.

    1. A soldier's daughter says:

      Do you have a family member in that unit? If so, you probably don’t love them as much as you think. Not even enough to see them one last time. Everyone else down there is allowed to have family members come visit them for the last time for a year BUT unit 1729th. I think that’s unfair to the soldiers and their families. There is no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to have people come visit them. IT’S OUR FAMILIES THAT WE LOVE AND CARE ABOUT FOR GOD’S SAKE!

  5. Deploying soldier says:

    Wow all these comments have nothing to do with the National Gaurd. if you have a complaint follow your chain of command.

  6. Deploying soldier says:

    Opps typo. All these comment about the National Guard has nothing to do with this article. It’s Army Reserve unit. But still if you have a complaint follow your chain of command.

  7. Family of the 1729th says:

    The commander deployed the company on the 9th instead of the 5th to give them men the 4 day pass at the start of training rather than after it. All the families got their 4 extra days with their solider without having to spend the money to fly to Texas. Why don’t you get back to focusing on your training so you don’t make any mistakes over there that could endanger other soldiers you’re deploying with. You’re active duty right now, act like it. Airing a grievance against the commander on a news site is shameful.

  8. Soldiers Wife says:

    I don’t understand why you’re complaining on this article!!!!! This article is about a different unit, in a different branch, and you’re turning into it being about you. BOO HOO we’re in a recession! Don’t spend the money. You said your good byes on February 12th and KNEW that those were your good byes. This article is about someone else don’t take away their integrity by crying about what you’re not getting. And don’t challenge me about not knowing. My husband is in the 1729th, this is his 3rd deployment, we have a son and another one on the way.. I would love to see him again but I’ve accepted it’s not going to happen until he comes home!

  9. Deploying Solider says:

    Thank you. I just so happen to be one of these Soldiers in the unit this article talks about. Also find it disrespectful to the Unit, US Army, and my family that these comments are being made.

    1. Wayne Mills says:

      Be Brave, Do what you were trained to do And come home safe!!! We will be there to welcome you HOME!!!

    2. AT says:

      Be safe, take care. All my prayers and well wishes.

  10. Sweet Ella says:

    This is an outrage!! It is astonishing that, with all these soldiers (and their families) sacrifice, that they are not given the WELL DESERVED time to spend with their families. These soldiers are going over there for our country. I believe a 4 day pass is a minimal request, considering they will be gone for at least 6 months. Shame on the US Army!!

  11. Baltimorebob says:

    I just want to say thank you four all u do four this country and my the lord watch over you and your famailys and bring each one of you home safe

  12. A Concerned Wife of the 1729th says:

    I’ve read a few of the comments here–specifically regarding the 1729th. Many express their unhappiness that their soldiers do not get any type of pass after the unit completes training in Fort Hood and I just had to comment myself–even though the original article is not about the 1729th or even the National Guard.

    My husband is currently deployed with the 1729th and he has expressed extreme frustration since he has left. He volunteered for the mission and has accepted it and understands it; however, he feels the unit is being overworked and is underappreciated. My husband is a hardworking and dedicated solider, after all the motto of the unit is something along the lines (please forgive me if I misquote) “Go Hard or Go Home.” I speak to him on a nearly dailly basis or as his schedule allows and each phone call, while he tries to sound upbeat and positive, I can hear his disappointment and frustration. The unit, as I am sure with every unit, is being worked from dusk to dawn and then being advised at the last minute of other actions/briefings/trainings that need to be completed. My husband, along with many others in the unit, feel there is lack of communication and coordination.

    Per a statement made in a previous comment: “Why don’t you get back to focusing on your training so you don’t make any mistakes over there that could endanger other soldiers you’re deploying with.” This is the primary reason my husband feels that some time off/down time would be beneficial to the unit. He says that because the unit is being worked to the bone, it is actually breaking the solidiers psyche. He feels that they are being worked so hard, that without any time to decompress some may simply “crack.” All he wants is the opportunity to relax–have some calm before the storm, if you will—essentially some down time to recharge their personal batteries so that when they do deploy overseas they are full ramped up.

    As with anything in life, you cannot expect to always be on the go–it will eventually catch up to you–and that’s what I believe the unit is feeling. They are always on the go and they haven’t had the chance and it doesn’t sound like they will have the chance to simply sit back, take it all in and then take off.

    Before any stressful situation, the advice most people give is to step back and calm down—why can’t the 1729th have that chance?

  13. urnotfunny says:

    I don’t have a family member in the military and have no right to comment on this situation. What I do want to say is — THANK YOU for serving our country and God Bless all military, past, present and future. My thoughts and prayers are always with you and your families.

  14. Wife of a deploying soldier says:

    I don’t believe it’s fair that they are not allowing the pass. But, I do however agree that the family shouldn’t be allowed to see them. I’m probably ticking a lot of people off for saying that. But, it’s called a MOB station. It’s transitioning these soldiers to get them ready for their mission. I believe family shouldn’t be there. I understand (I have a deploying soldier too) how much you want that one more goodbye. But in reality, how good would it do. The soldier would have to mentally re-prepare leaving their families again after having roughly 30 days to acclimate to that. All the emotions for saying goodbye would be brought right back up. I am sure some could adjust, but not all. And what of those who have no family. It would not be fair to them. This is just my opinion, take it what you will. It isn’t fair that they aren’t getting those 4 days to relax before leaving for a year. And it is not fair that certain members did get to see them. But I believe that a MOB station is that for a reason. To get your soldier ready for the mission ahead, not for final goodbyes to loved ones.

  15. Sarmajor says:

    To the 203rd Transportation Detachment, USAR – have a safe and meaningful deployment. As we all know from the USS Cole – there is no safe port.

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