Staff Sgt. Johnathan Hoover
2nd ABCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas -- Sometimes you need to move equipment from one point to another in the fastest way possible, how do you get it there?

The Soldiers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment "Headhunters," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, learned just how to loading heavy vehicles onto a C-17 Globemaster III at Robert Gray Army Airfield on Fort Hood, Texas, with some help form the United States Air Force.

"This aircraft was actually designed to carry a tank," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ty Brooks, a load master resource manager assigned to 313th Airlift Squadron, 446th Airlift Wing, out of Joint Base Lewis Mccord-Washington. "This aircraft doesn't do it often, it's not a cost effective way to move a tank but if they have to get them there in a hurry with no other way to get them there; we have the ability to do it."

"Those pieces of equipment are very heavy, you are talking about 132, plus, thousand pounds," said Brooks. "That's a heavy piece of equipment to be moving."

Each M1 Abrams tank weighs as much as thirteen African elephants.

"A lot of resources and a lot of people worked really hard to make this happen," said Army Capt. Joseph Fontana, commander of Company A, 1st Bn. 9th Cav. Reg. "We definitely took advantage of it."

This is the first time for the Headhunters to do this type of training.

"It was a really cool experience, something I've never done or heard of anyone doing before," said Army Cpl. Ian Ortiz, an M1 Abrams Crewman assigned to Company A, 1st Bn., 9th Cav. Reg.

Brooks said one airman on his load team is brand new and has only flown a couple missions. Neither of them has ever seen an Abrams tank loaded.

"I have been flying for years and I've never loaded one," said Brooks, a native of Bellingham, Washington, "For him to see an Abrams tank on one of his first missions, that's pretty awesome. We were excited to get the training for our side and real happy to provide it for the unit down here too."

"Very few guys out there have actually carried them cause they don't do it that often," said Brooks. "The Army personnel were very professional and did a really good job during the training."

"Working with the Air Force was incredibly easy," said Fontana. "They were very friendly and extremely knowledgeable."

"It's good training for our folks and it's good training for them cause they may have to be getting ready to deploy those tanks on a C-17 someday." Brooks said.

"This is something we need to know how to do to roll out just in case we do get called up on a real-world mission," said Ortiz, a native of Byron, California. "It's not something we should be trying to stumble through for the very first time."

The training did not come without its challenges, as with all new training - lessons learned will be shared with others. For both forces, they learned what each other needed.

"They (the Air Force) took all the measurements of the tanks, information they need to know and how they apply that to where we put the tank on the plane," said Fontana. "How we position it and how we chain it, our guys learned a lot from working with the Air Force."

"Actually putting the vehicles on the aircraft was quick and easy, that part was the easy part," said Fontana. "The difficult part, which we learned a lot out of this, was the paperwork side of the house."

"Making sure our air-load planner is on site and the appropriate paperwork is done," said Fontana. "That paperwork is the biggest hurdle we will have to get through."

Due to the training, Fontana said going through the exercise, getting all the paperwork ready for the Air Force so they have everything they need will make the process go 10 times faster in the future.

Fontana explained, future training is planned and will be shared throughout the unit.

"If we need to get out the door, everyone should know how to do this so that when it actually comes down to doing it for real; they can expedite and do it efficiently", said Ortiz.