Trans Battalion Receives Golden Training
June 21, 2011
By Sgt. Ferdinand Thomas, 214th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
MCALESTER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT, Okla. - Real world missions empowering real Army Reserve Soldiers before they deploy Down Range is the beauty of Operation Golden Cargo for the 821st Transportation Battalion (Motor Transport) out of Topeka, Kansas.
“This mission came at just the right time. We deploy soon and Golden Cargo will help strengthen our troops mentally before they take on the challenges of completing a yearlong mission in a combat zone,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rodney Sell, 821st commander from Blue Springs, Mo.
In a combat zone troops work with weapons, ammunition, logistics, and other troops and civilians daily. Minus the combat zone equals Operation Golden Cargo, a national military exercise which trains many Soldiers from all components of the Army and other services in multifunctional logistics and trains troops to handle and transport many types of ammunition.
This operation started 20 years ago and comes alive every summer bringing military personnel from all over the nation together to achieve two common goals; accomplishing a mission through all adversity and doing so as safely as possible.
“The Soldiers are going through a lot physically, especially with the summer’s temperatures. They get pretty tired but we rotate the troops, so everyone stays fresh,” said Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Hinrichs, 821st Special Operations NCO from Emporia, Kansas. “When we got out here our commander made it clear safety was the top priority, so we’re making sure everyone is drinking water, eating and getting the proper amounts of rest daily.”
The 821st Soldiers drove roughly 20 vehicles, which include flatbed trailers and Humvee to their destination, the place where the U.S. military’s bombs are built, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, McAlester, Ok. Since arriving about a week ago, they’ve worked around the clock loading and unloading ammunition throughout the 70-square-mile ammunition plant. Their drivers assure loads make it safely from McAlester to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Once there they offload, rest, and drive to Blue Grass, Ky., and pick up a load of ammunition and transport it back to McAlester.
The 155 mm rounds and Navy Guided Missiles are the latest of the ammunition the 821st is safely transporting to and from their destinations. The rounds are taken to Leonard Wood and the missiles are brought back from Blue Grass and stored in the bunkers throughout the plant grounds. All precautions are taken. The vehicles are tracked by satellite and a minimum of two Soldiers ride in each truck.
“We want to be battle ready at all times,” Sell said. “That’s what makes us effective. And this operation is just what we needed. Moving these types of ammunition can be very dangerous. However, it is the reality of what we’re about to face.”
Moving through the mountains and on the dangerous roads of Afghanistan will soon become a reality for the 821st. Like true heroes they are facing that reality and preparing themselves for nothing less than success. Operation Golden Cargo has been helping units prepare for deployments since 1991 and with the help of McAlester Army Ammunitions Plant, Golden Cargo will continue to help our military stay strong.