By Justine Barati (Joint Munitions Command)October 16, 2008
BLUE GRASS ARMY DEPOT, Ky. --Many have heard the legend of John Henry, the steel driver who was immortalized in the song by Johnny Cash, but few realize the Army has its own steel-driving team, the 1151st Transportation Railway Operating Company.
This team of elite Army Reservists conducted an annual training exercise Sept. 8-12 at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Ky.
"We support our Soldiers overseas by making sure they get the ammo they need," said Staff Sgt. Becky Cox, the unit administrator. "The company goes wherever the rail missions are and conducts rail operations, track maintenance and repair of equipment," she said.
According to Cox, they conduct railroad operations in theater and send items
like ammunition to ports within the United States. She said they ship ammunition via
railcar to be loaded onto ships and transported to the warfighter.
Having railway specialists within the Army ensures the United States has military
railroad capabilities anywhere in the world.
"This is important for security and if someone [in the Department of Defense] wants to operate by rail, like moving equipment by rail, they have the people to do it," said Sgt. 1st Class Dean Bedient.
Nine reservists were working at the depot to paint rail cars, cut brush away from the track, repair the brush cutter, repair switches and targets and move rail cars from one location to another during the week.
According to Bedient, maintaining equipment and rails for the depot also saves the depot money because they don't have to hire someone to do the work.
The dedication of the Soldiers to the job is also evident. Bedient drives from Pennsylvania to Kentucky to drill with the 1151st because "I enjoy what I do."
The 1151st TROC is headquartered in Wilmington, N.C., with another detachment in Sunny Point, N.C.