Fort Wainwright Transportation Motor Pool drivers receive top Army award
October 21, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Fort Wainwright's own version of 'Ice Road Truckers' have taken it one step further. A small team of drivers from the Transportation Motor Pool has received the highest safety award given by the United States Army Information Management Command for operating a variety of vehicles for a 12-month period, accumulating 146,794 miles without a single accident, incident or citation.
Ray Castellaw, TMP supervisor, Directorate of Logistics, has worked in and around TMP since 1975 as a Soldier, civilian driver, dispatcher and in his current role since 2008. "In all my years," Castellaw said, "I have never seen anything like this. These guys drive a variety of vehicles in some of the harshest conditions transporting Soldiers and equipment, and their personal commitment to safety is unmatched," he said.
These drivers provide support to Fort Wainwright Soldiers, but stand ready to support Soldiers at Joint Base Richardson-Elmendorf, "which they have done on short notice more than once," said Dave VanMeter, transportation chief.
"These guys are second to none. They are always ready to step up and move Soldiers and cargo regardless of the time of year," he said. "They are constantly receiving training from Alan Thomas, collateral duty safety officer and fellow driver."
Thomas, who tacked on 14,885 miles of his own, continually searches for ways to improve. The team watches videos on safe driving techniques, he finds pertinent information on the Internet that is helpful and relies on the garrison Safety Office for tips. The retired Air Force chief master sergeant summed it up in simple terms: "We knows our jobs and we does it," Thomas said.
When he became the crew leader Castellaw set a goal to provide the necessary educational opportunities available and put together a well-trained staff of professional drivers, they have accomplished that goal.
"I am very proud of the TMP drivers because of their constant vigilance when operating a vehicle during some of the most dangerous road conditions that anyone can encounter," said Mary Kay, director of logistics, "They are entrusted with safely transporting Soldiers and their equipment during some of the harshest winter driving conditions in the world."
"They continuously make safety their number one priority," she said, "they truly deserved to be nominated and receive the IMCOM Pacific Region Safety Award."
Other drivers on the team contributed to the overall total with individual accomplishments: Stephen Ball -- 13,885, Paul Frone -- 11,281, Luther Gripper -- 12, 545, Gregory Handy -- 7, 555, Steve Huisman -- 13, 204, Norman Jones -- 11,831, Thomas Klumb -- 16,663, Kirk Manley -- 15,094, Benjamin Merrell -- 4,322, Rodney Schulte -- 7,686, Marvin Williams -- 17, 174.
The entire crew is extremely proud of what they accomplished, but moving Soldiers and equipment in a safe manner remains a priority. "I consider every passenger a customer and precious cargo. I take pride in being a professional and knowing I am trained to get from point A to be B now matter what the conditions. It is all part of being prepared," said driver Stephen Ball.