By Donna Klapakis(SDDC)December 18, 2018
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The 599th Transportation Brigade and its partners offloaded 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division cargo and equipment from the USNS Britten from Dec. 16-18 here on its return from the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
In addition to the brigade's regular port operations partners, Military Sealift Command and Fleet Logistics Center-Pearl Harbor, members of the 931st Expeditionary Terminal Operations Element, a reserve unit from Sherman Oaks, California, returned to Hawaii to help with the move, along with the 836th Transportation Battalion, and Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1 from Virginia.
The 931st ETOE is one of the 599th's total force integration partners. Elements of the unit had come to Hawaii to work with the 599th during a previous JRTC offload in April.
The brigade conducted 24-hour operations during the download.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kevin Koppers, 931st mobility warrant officer, has been with the unit for two years. He headed up the night shift for the 931st. He said this mission differed from the one he had worked here in April.
"It's a big improvement over last time," he said. "Our personnel are more experienced from the last time they came here. They are more professional and were able to work as a team.
"It was also easier to get started because the people at the 599th and here at Pearl Harbor know who we are and know our capabilities. This time we were able to work beyond our expectations."
599th traffic management specialist Frank Viray was able to mentor ETOE members.
"During the first day, they seemed to be observing rather than working," he said. "I made corrections on their duties and responsibilities as marine cargo specialists. After that, they took charge."
This was the first trip to Hawaii for Sgt. Taylor Narvaez, 931st motor transport operator.
"I was in charge of the materiel handlers," he said. "We got a good day's work done each night, and I learned how to manage movement in a safe but prompt manner."
Lt. Col. Gary Whittacre, 836th Transportation Battalion commander, provided overall supervision of SDDC personnel supporting the operation, as well as chief evaluator of the 931st's performance.
"My experience with the 931st ETOE is that they are professional, well-trained, and able to execute operations," said Whittacre.
Plus, from an outsiders' observation, there's no noticeable difference between the 931st, 836th, and 2nd Bde., 25th I.D. The way they conduct themselves is as Soldiers, NCOs and officers in the Army."
Whittacre has worked two operations at Pearl Harbor.
"One improvement between this and the last operation I worked was the ability to bring coordination to the operational process," he said. "We had operations meetings at every shift change to coordinate our download production goals for the next shift.
"We were able to secure the download with no damage to equipment or personnel," Whittacre said. "To go through a complete operation like this with no damage to equipment or personnel is a tribute to leadership down to the lowest level."