When rotational units need a tank or Stryker vehicle moved at the National Training Center there are certain Soldiers who can take their call – truckers – or motor transport operators, to be exact.
At the NTC, operators drive some of the biggest trucks the Army uses – M1070 heavy equipment transport (HET) trucks and the M1000 trailers attached to them. To demonstrate operator skills and provide friendly competition for transportation crews, the 2nd Transportation Company here has hosted “Truck Roadeo” events the past two years, with the most recent taking place June 2-4.
Taking part in the competition were 11 teams (two Soldiers per team) from: 2TC; Supply and Transportation Co., 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and; 699th Maintenance Co. All teams competed in Warrior Tasks and a timed, light vehicle category; six went on to compete in an additional timed, heavy (HET and trailer) category.
“The Truck Roadeo tested operators on their basic Warrior Tasks and Skills, knowledge of vehicle systems, ability to drive and navigate through rough terrain, reacting to an [improvised explosive device], conducting tactical casualty care, and calling in a [nine-line medical evacuation],” stated 2nd Lt. William Wilson, 4th Platoon leader with 2TC and officer-in-charge of the contest.
The “Best Trucking Crew in the High Desert” honors went to Sgt. Santos Arana and Staff Sgt. Jonathan Dejesus, both with 2TC, with a time of 2:27 hours. They received an Army Commendation Medal, said Wilson.
Most teams consisted of a Soldier and NCO, who served as a truck commander. One participant, Sgt. John Young – a HET operator with 2TC – said the competition was an opportunity for young Soldiers to demonstrate, not just knowledge of their vehicles and equipment, but their communication skills as well. Junior Soldiers should be learning from NCO’s to ask for guidance and to also provide suggestions, Young said.
Wilson explained that the event gave younger Soldiers an opportunity to work on a battle buddy team with experienced NCO’s.
“The competition helped them to develop skills and confidence under a stressful competitive environment,” Wilson added.
During a loading phase of the heavy category, Staff Sgt. Sauafiafi Ahsue, a squad leader with 4th Platoon, 2TC, and Pvt. Ryder Wilson, a HET operator in the same unit, combined efforts to properly secure a 70-ton M1 Abrams tank on a trailer. Using thick steel chains and a ratcheting system, the pair finally got the six chains tensioned.
Ahsue said it was challenging working in the desert heat, but the process of chaining down a tank was not unusual. If you can tie-down a tank, you can pretty much load anything, she said. Private Wilson added that strapping down a tank was not much different than loading an Army M88 recovery vehicle.
After being graded on loading the main battle tanks, heavy category competitors drove HET vehicles through a training lane where they encountered several tests. Three of the test stations evaluated them on how they responded to: having a flat tire on their trailer in hostile conditions; encountering an IED threat, and; calling for a medical evacuation.
All competitors received a certificate of participation. Light and heavy category winners received an Army Achievement Medal.
Truck Roadeo Results
Best Trucking Crew in the High Desert
Sgt. Santos Arana
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Dejesus
2nd Transportation Company
Warrior Tasks, light category, and heavy category times
combined for 2:27 hours
Heavy Category Winners
Sgt. John Young
Spc. Ryan Diedrich
2nd Transportation Co.
Time – 40 minutes
Light Category Winners
Spc. Carlos Blackmon
Sgt. Aaron Jones
2nd Transportation Co.
Warrior Tasks and light category times
combined for 1:42 hours