National Guard Explosive Ordnance Disposal Troops Welcome New Commander on Saturday, October 17
SCOTIA, N.Y. (10/16/2015)(readMedia)-- Lt. Col. Jason Souza, a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, will take command of the New York Army National Guard's 501st Ordnance Battalion, a headquarters unit that controls up to five explosive ordnance disposal companies, on Saturday, Oct. 17 during a ceremony at the Armed Forces Readiness Center in Scotia-Glenville.
Explosive ordnance disposal companies are key in fighting the IEDs that have been the enemy's primary weapon in Iraq and Afghanistan.
WHO: Lt. Col. Jason Souza, the incoming commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Caliendo, the outgoing commander, the Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 501st Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and Col. James Freehart, the commander of the 153rd Troop Command.
WHAT: A traditional Army Change-of-Command ceremony in which the battalion's a color, or flag, is transferred from Caliendo (the outgoing commander) to Freehart, the higher headquarters commander, to Souza, the incoming commander. The ceremony marks the transfer of authority and responsibility for the unit and was traditionally designed to allow the Soldiers to see who their new commander was. On the battlefield the unit's colors marked the location of the commander during the fight.
WHEN: 12 noon, Saturday, October 17, 2015.
WHERE: Scotia Armed Forces Readiness Center, 251 Rudy Chase Dr., Glenville, NY 12302
Members of the press will be able to interview the incoming and outgoing commanders. Video and photographic opportunities include Soldiers in formation and the flag transfer ceremony.
For access to this secure military facility contact Capt. Rob Crudden, 518-729-9386.
Lt. Col. Andrew Caliendo
Lt. Col. Andrew Caliendo was commissioned a second lieutenant in the New York Army National Guard through the Empire State Military Academy Officer Candidate School (OCS) program in 1992 and assigned as a platoon leader in Company F, 42d Aviation Brigade. In September 1999, he was assigned as the personnel officer for the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion (ASB) in Brooklyn, NY. In July 2000, he was assigned as commander of the Headquarters and Supply Company (HSC) of the 642nd ASB in Brooklyn, NY.
As commander, he deployed to New York City with his company on September 11, 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks. After over four years in command, he was assigned as the support operations officer (SPO) to the 642nd ASB where he mobilized and deployed to Iraq in 2004-05, serving as the unit executive officer after redeployment. In July 2006, he was transferred to the 42d ID Tactical Command Post (TAC) as the logistics operations officer, where he served until his current assignments as the 42nd ID Division Transportation Officer (DTO) and deputy officer in charge of the 42d ID Domestic All Hazards Response Team (DART) Coordination Cell (DCC).
A highlight of Caliendo's command of the 501st since 2012 was the employment this year of 60 EOD Soldiers training alongside 300 domestic and international EOD military and law enforcement personnel in Oriskany, New York for an exercise called Raven's Challenge at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in June.
Caliendo's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.
Caliendo's Military and Civilian Education include the Signal Officer Basic Course, the Quartermaster Advance Course, the Army Command and General Staff College (ILE) and Advanced Operations Course. Caliendo holds a Bachelor's degree from New York Institute of Technology in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's Degree in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
In civilian life he is a quality manager at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Conn. He is a resident of Pelham, New York.
Lt. Col. Jason Souza
Lt. Col. Jason Souza was born in Southampton, New York and enlisted in the Army Reserve in November 1993. He received his officer's commission as a 2nd Lt. in 1998 from Marion Military Institute and served as a Tank Platoon Leader for Company D, 1st Battalion, 101st Cavalry in Newburgh New York. In June 2000 Souza went on active duty where he served in a variety of leadership and staff positions with explosives ordnance disposal, including command time as an EOD Company Commander and division chief of the Improvised Explosive Device Division and Air Ordnance Division. Returning to reserve status in 2010 Souza joined the Alabama National Guard as the Group Assistant Operations officer. Souza moved to the New York Army National Guard in 2011 where he served in the 501st EOD Battalion as the Battalion Operations Officer and the 53rd Troop Command as the Assistant Operations Officer.
Souza has served multiple tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
His military and civilian educations include Basic Training, Advance Individual Training, Armor Officer Basic Course, Combined Captains Career Course, CAS3, the Army Command and General Staff College (ILE), and the Advanced Access and Disablement Course. He currently has a bachelor's degree from Oswego State University and a Master's from Park University.
His awards and decorations include the Master Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge, Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf, Army Commendation with three oak leaf clusters and the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster.
Souza is the Director of Army Programs for the contracting firm PAE in his civilian career. He is from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and is married to Beth Souza. The couple have two children.
501st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion:
Based at the Scotia Armed Forces Reserve Center the 501st EOD battalion is a headquarters unit which is able to take control of two to five Explosive Ordnance Disposal companies in a combat zone. The 501st is the higher headquarters for the New York Army National Guard's 1108th EOD Company, also based at the Scotia Armed Forces Reserve Center, along with EOD companies in Greenville, North Carolina, Camp Edward, Massachusetts, Camp Dawson, West Virginia, and Camp Grayling, Michigan.
The 501st Ordnance Battalion deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2010, serving there for nine months. During the battalion's deployment in Iraq the unit was responsible for counter-IED operations in nine provinces of southern Iraq, a region of about 81,000-square miles. This includes the main north-south highway known to the Military as MSR (Main Supply Route) Tampa, which is the road that U.S. military supplies and Soldiers entered and left Iraq over.
The 501st traces its roots back to the New York National Guard's historic 105th Infantry Regiment , known as the "Appleknockers," because historically the Soldiers of the regiment worked in the apple orchards of the Hudson Valley as civilians. The regiment fought in World War I and World War II before converting to an EOD battalion in 2005.
The 501st also serves as the higher headquarters for the New York Army National Guard's 1427th Transportation Company and 466th Area Medical Company.