Sgt. Charles Schmidt received a telephone call at 4:30 p.m. Friday asking if he wanted to be called up to active duty. Saturday, Schmidt and other members of the 419th Transportation Company and their families met at the Moore Hall armory in Holladay to process personal and legal documents in preparation for the unit's Monday morning departure.
By 4:30 p.m. Saturday, the troops were in formation, where Gov. Norm Bangerter and Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis presented flags to be flown over the company during their expected 180 days of active service."The service paid me for eight years of training. Now it's time to kick some of it back," said Schmidt on his reasons for volunteering for active duty. "It's always easy to cop a plea and say John could do it, but then it doesn't get done." Schmidt was in the process of changing Army Reserve units and would not have been ordered to report for duty.
The 419th Transportation Company includes mechanics, drivers, fuelers, clerks and supply personnel. The troops spent the afternoon at the armory preparing simple wills, signing life insurance forms and reviewing medical records.
The call-up was not unexpected, according to Major Bill Auer, public affairs officer for the 96th Army Reserve. The company knew its services would be needed as support for the troops already in place in the Middle East. It was just a matter of time while the Department of Defense worked out the logistics on transportation for the equipment and personnel.
"We're not used to moving this much, this fast. In fact, we've never done it before, not even in World War II," said Auer. With the mobilization of the Strategic Naval Reserve and the Strategic Air Reserve, former commercial cargo ships and passenger planes are now in place to move support forces and equipment.
Speaking to the troops and their families, Bangerter recalled some of his military experiences 37 years ago and said he is proud of the 419th Transportation Company. He presented a Utah state flag and said he hoped it would fly over the troops wherever they were asked to serve.
DePaulis presented a Salt Lake City flag that had flown over the City-County Building. He said no flag would fly in its place until the company returned the flag he gave them.
The unit joins several other Utah units that have been activated as a result of the standoff in the Persian Gulf.