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NEWS | Dec. 3, 2012

Transportation missions in Africa boost Soldier morale

By Sgt. Alexa Becerra Kentucky National Guard

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - Soldiers from Task Force Longrifles have been tasked with a mission known simply as "The Border Run." The mission is vital to fellow Soldiers currently conducting force protection at Camp Gilbert in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.

The Border Run mission consists of these Soldiers meeting at the border between Djibouti and Ethiopia to exchange supplies. The transportation of supplies not only helps with material needs for the Soldiers in Dire Dawa, but also helps boost their morale.

"If it weren't for these missions, our Soldiers downrange would not be able to send or receive mail," said Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Rudolph, C Battery Headquarters Platoon Sgt., mission commander for the border runs. "Also, they've been without power at times, so we have supplied them with the equipment necessary to keep the generators running when needed."

"We're also able to bring back bags of Ethiopian coffee, which the troops here on Camp Lemonnier love." Rudolph added, "The Dire Dawa guys also have been visiting an orphanage, so we'll transport any items that we put together for the kids, such as shoes, clothing and food."

The Soldiers downrange aren't the only troops benefitting from the border runs.

"We facilitate transportation of various supplies for our Soldiers, along with supplies for Navy and Air Force personnel based in Ethiopia," said Staff Sgt. Clinton Ragsdale, a Lawrenceburg, Ky., native, who serves as the communications sergeant and operations non-commissioned officer in charge of C Battery. "Along with transporting supplies, we also facilitate chain of command and Chaplain visits downrange."

The border runs also give the opportunity for Soldiers tasked with this mission to go outside of the military setting, both in Ethiopia and Djibouti.

"It's an eye opener for the people that go on these missions because you get to see how the local population lives and it makes you appreciate what you have back home," Ragsdale said. "And that's the whole reason we're doing this, for the people back home."