Directing under a deadline: Detachment orchestrates trailer transfers
July 23, 2012
WINNEMUCCA, Nev. (July 24, 2012) -- There is a 30-minute turnaround that measures a successful mission for members of the 924th Transportation Company's Trailer Transfer Point Detachment here.
And when the mission involved truck convoys hauling tons of ammunition during summer in the Nevada desert, the challenge was clear for the transportation coordinators participating in the two-week Operation Golden Cargo.
"It has to be done safely," Sgt. Jesse Morales of Visalia, Calif., the detachment's acting platoon leader, said. "It has to be done as quickly as you can do it so you can get on the road and continue the mission."
The mission required the Soldiers to orchestrate the handing off of fully-loaded trailers from one convoy to the next, making certain required paperwork was handed over and vehicles were properly marked.
Many in the unit said the mission benefitted from their recent deployment to Kuwait, where they ran quality assurance inspections on trucks and convoys. The unit returned in April 2011.
Spc. Kody R. Melendrez of Fresno, Calif., a movement specialist, said everything ran better because of their prior experience and it helped prevent a bottleneck among units moving through the yard.
"Doing our job here helps them do their mission and keep their times," Melendrez said. "If we stall here, it stalls everywhere else."
Sgt. Nicholas M. Bernal of San Fernando, Calif., the detachment sergeant, said the beginning of the operation was rough at first, with turnaround times of around 45 minutes. This soon corrected to a handoff lasting 25 to 30 minutes, with two or three convoys coming through each day.
"We adjusted fire and corrected everything that needed to be corrected and now everything is running smoothly," Bernal said.
The Trailer Transfer Point they worked from was an asphalt-covered Nevada Department of Transportation lot a few miles outside the town of Winnemucca.
When the line of military tractor trailers pulled into the yard, the movement specialists guided each vehicle into position, placing them only a few feet from the next.
After making sure the drivers exchanged the proper paperwork with their counterparts, they supervised as the trailers were unhooked and then attached to the next cab. The movement specialists then acted as road guards to make sure the convoy could get on the road without the interference of civilian traffic.
"They already know what I expect, so that helps a lot," Bernal said of his Soldiers. "I don't have to tell them twice."
Hot weather added to the difficulty of the mission, as the lot had no shade and temperatures ran into the hundreds the first week, reaching the most dangerous heat category measured by the military.
"We've been in [Heat] Category Five most of the time," Morales said. "It makes a challenge for the troops to stay hydrated."
Despite this obstacle, the detachment kept the convoys moving throughout the operation.
"Their morale is great," Bernal said. "I've got a good group of Soldiers working under me. We're showing the military can run a safe mission with no problem."