Fort Knox welcomes truck wranglers
July 21, 2011
As the installation continues in the transformation process, Fort Knox saw another first Saturday.
The first truck rodeo was conducted on the installation, hosted by Company B, 3rd Battalion, 399th Regiment of the 800th Logistical Support Brigade, which is a unit belonging to the 80th Training Command, part of the Total Army School System.
No animals or ropes were involved. The rodeo was a challenge for military vehicle operators to test their driving skills. Twenty-three drivers competed against one another in five stations: straight line stop, alley dock, parallel park with trailer, serpentine forward and reverse (with trailer), and a preventive maintenance checks and service.
The stations required drivers to exercise their skills in parallel parking, stopping, and weaving in different vehicles. Unlike real-world situations, the drivers used ground guides, who could only help drivers with left and right directions, but not distances.
The PMCS station presented Humvees with five deficiencies that the contestants had to discover.
Sgt. Hubert Caldwell, Company A, 4th Battalion , 321 Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C. earned 100 points for his straight line back up.
“I have 10 years of experience in the Army, but this is my first rodeo,” said the relieved NCO, who was obviously apprehensive about the events. “This is about bragging rights. And maybe good scores will help with promotion.”
Spc. Charles Plummer, also with the 3/399 at Richmond, Va., successfully completed the serpentine course. Negotiating the course forwards was tough, but doing it in reverse was brutal.
“I’ve never done that in reverse before,” Spc. Plummer said, wiping sweat from his face due to the heat and humidity. “But don’t tell me the score, I don’t want to know.”
There are more differences between military vehicles and passenger sedans than the sizes, according to the cadre instructors.
“Adjusting the rear-view mirrors on a Humvee can’t be accomplished with the push of a button,” said Sgt. 1st Class Rob Summerville, with Company B of the 399th.
The mirrors have to loosened first, then adjusted, he said.
“It’s really hard to see the mirrors, especially the one on the passenger side,” added Sgt. Casey Tribble also with Bravo Company, 399. “You actually have to look through the windshield to see that mirror.”
Some of the trailers present challenges as well. Sgt. 1st Class Summerville said the utility trailer was actually harder to park than the longer tractor trailer due to the sensitivity of their respective hitches.
“The long truck is actually very easy to park because the steering mechanism is more sensitive,” he said.
The rodeo has been conducted in different states, but Brig. Gen. Tim Williams, the deputy commander for operations for the 80th Training Command (TASS) said this rodeo was done at Fort Knox because resident staff said the resources were readily available.
“We’re not married to any particular place,” explained Brig. Gen. Williams. “If you build it, we will come; we’re masters at finding the resources.”
The 80th conducts training for reservists at Fort Knox throughout the year for a variety of military occupational specialties and its presence will increase soon when the 100th Division moves from its present location in Louisville to the installation.
“We come with funding; when we mobilize people, they get paid. Our (training) Soldiers eat here, use your health facilities, sleep in the billets, so Fort Knox gets funding in return,” said Brig. Gen. Williams.
“We currently have 256 students on the ground at Fort Knox,” said 1st Sgt. Kevin Cavanaugh. “The only break the 80th takes from training is a two-week block at the holidays.”
The relationship at Fort Knox is a good one and 1st Sgt. explained that part of the training for health service students includes riding with ambulance drivers from Hardin Memorial Hospital.
The resources and assets at Fort Knox are such that more MOS specialties may be coming to the installation, Gen. Williams said.
“Our mix may change so we can keep things at a high standard,” he said. “We’ll find more MOS students so we can keep our number up. We like training in this area!”
The rodeo winner was Sgt. Jeremiah Tomlin with the 3/319th 800th Logistical Support Battalion, Richmond Va.