Golden Rule:  Safety is top priority
Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Johnson, Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 11, Jacksonville, Fla., ensures a crate of ammunition fits perfectly along side other crates in preparation for movement to Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev. for destruction.

There are a few basic concepts that are drilled into every military servicemember's head, such as discipline, military bearing, fitness and most importantly, safety. This year's Golden Cargo annual training exercise is no different.

Army Reserve, Marine, and Navy servicemembers participating in Golden Cargo are responsible for transporting ammunitions from here to Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev. With so many moving parts and personnel involved in the exercise, there are a variety of safety concerns.

"There are many aspects when it comes to safety for an exercise of this size," said 1st Lt. Eddie Woody, Golden Cargo safety officer, 421st Transportation Company, Colorado Springs, Colo. "Everything comes into play, from the weather to wildlife."

Due to the desert climate and summer temperatures dehydration and heat stroke are the main concerns for the servicemembers who are responsible for loading the ammunitions in preparation for transport. To ensure their safety while getting the job done certain protocols are implemented.

"We make sure there is always plenty of water on hand and we also follow a work cycle to ensure every Soldier has adequate time out of the sun," said Staff Sgt. Michael Miller, 261st Ordnance Company, Charleston, W. Va.

Before the ammunition is even loaded on to the palletized loading systems for transport, both ammunition and the trucks are thoroughly inspected to ensure safety.

"The ammo has to be properly covered and labeled as explosive before it can get on the PLS's," said Woody. "Also the trucks go through a thorough Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services before they leave on their convoy."

After all of the PMCS and the trucks are lined up to head out of the gate, there is one more safety protocol in place before the can convoy begin.

Just like in theater, before anyone rolls out the gate there is a convoy and a safety brief to inform the Soldiers about the route and to answer all the 'what if' questions, said Woody.

After the drivers and assistant drivers are properly briefed on the route, conditions and standards for the convoy, they head out onto the civilian highways for perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the mission.

"During the convoy you've got to watch out for the wildlife. They will jump out right in front of you," said Miller. "Another thing to watch out for is civilian traffic, especially in the blind spots."

Page last updated Mon August 3rd, 2009 at 15:31