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Fort Drum sends plow, emergency vehicles to transport soldiers stuck at Syracuse airport

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FORT DRUM — With winter storms stranding dozens of 10th Mountain Division soldiers at Syracuse Hancock International Airport, the post sent vehicles Wednesday to help bring them back north.

Fort Drum spokeswoman Julie A. Cupernall said the post contracted with a Syracuse company to provide buses to transport about 60 soldiers. When the bus company, which she did not name, asked for an escort, the post sent down a plow truck and vehicles from its Directorate of Emergency Services.

She said the soldiers represented multiple units, and were not traveling as one group.

Joanne E. Colomb, a volunteer at the airport’s Gregory J. Harris Military Courtesy Room, said that about 2:15 p.m. there were 62 soldiers waiting at the center, with soldiers trickling in through the morning.

Mrs. Colomb said some of the soldiers had been stuck at the airport for as long as four days.

The volunteer-driven center has snacks and drinks, along with about 20 leather recliners that were used by soldiers to sleep. However, others got the OK to sleep on the airport’s baggage claim conveyor belts.

Talking with the soldiers, she said many are returning from leave taken in advance of upcoming deployments.

Despite the delayed return, Mrs. Colomb said, she hadn’t heard any complaints from the waiting soldiers.

“They’re soldiers,” she said. “They can do anything.”

As the soldiers wait to return to post, division and post commander Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend and division Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt are also in Syracuse on unrelated business. Ms. Cupernall said the two would not be on the bus to post.

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