Wagonmasters drive Phantom Thunder
June 16, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - Just as there is no thunder without lightning, there is no Phantom Thunder without Wagonmasters.
15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), set up and executed the 600-rider strong Phantom Thunder II motorcycle ride which started at Hood Stadium here, June 11, after months of planning and coordination. The ride was part of Fort Hood's motorcycle safety program.
The Wagonmasters coordinated with various organizations for the event. Local law enforcement provided police escorts for the ride, as well as ensuring traffic flow came to a halt for the procession of riders. The United Services Organization was on hand to provide free beverages, also, and Army public affairs was on hand for event coverage.
"It's really about keeping everyone safe," said Capt. Josh Southworth, operations officer in charge, 15th SB.
In the event of an emergency, a rider only needed to call 911 and say "Phantom Thunder" for dispatch to send emergency vehicles to the scene as they were actively tracking the ride, according to Southworth.
He also explained that the unit's communication specialist Soldiers were located throughout local communities to relay messages from the motorcycle convoy to the event's command and control cell at Hood Stadium. Command and Control then used transportation software to track the ride's progress in real time, ensuring that everyone involved knew what was happening, and keeping the event on schedule.
"Basically it comes down to overall success or failure," said Master Sgt. Celia Feller, the ride's NCO in charge, of the importance of the Wagonmasters' efforts.
Although some might consider this a monumental task, Col. Larry Phelps, commander, 15th SB, knew his Soldiers could handle it.
"We volunteered for this," Phelps said. "Truth of the matter is that we take events like this and use them as a training exercise."
The 15th successfully planned and executed the ride while preparing for an upcoming deployment.
"There is a brigade here that is always trying to be value added," Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general, III Corps and Fort Hood, said to the riders at Hood Stadium before the ride. "That's the 15th Sustainment Brigade."