FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - With the Transportation Corps being an immeasurable component of our nation's armed forces, its Soldiers are responsible for moving supplies, troops, and equipment globally. For one Transportation unit, its Soldiers would have an opportunity to showcase their skills on wheels.
The 58th Battalion (Transportation) of the 2nd Brigade (TC), 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment (TD-FS), conducted its Battalion Annual Organic Truck Rodeo on 16 April 2021, where Soldiers of the 58th (TC) Battalion competed for a chance to take part in a joint service truck rodeo alongside Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps service members this fall.
Competitors of the 58th (TC) Battalion Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Company took part in four events for the battalion's truck rodeo; the 90 Degree Alley Dock Backing, the M915 Forward, and Reserve Serpentine, the 45 Degree Alley Dock Backing, and the M1120 Forward Serpentine. Competitors were meticulously observed and graded on their ability to proficiently and safely maneuver a tactical truck and trailer through obstacles.
"With the 58th (TC) Battalion consisting of active duty Soldiers and civilian contractors, the truck rodeo is intended to be a fun and friendly environment for the unit's civilian personnel and motor transport operator service members that also promotes esprit de corps, said 2nd Lt. Daniel Quackenbush, 58th (TC) Charlie Company executive officer and truck rodeo officer-in-charge.
With unit pride, fellowship, and camaraderie in mind, Command Sgt. Maj. Darrion Wilson, the 58th (TC) Battalion command sergeant major, shared additional key factors behind conducting the unit's truck rodeo.
"Inspiration for the battalion rodeo competition was to test the skills of our instructors while tapping into that competitive edge to motivate them to be the best motor transport operator they can be," he said, "The truck rodeo aids with preventing Soldiers from becoming stagnant in their 88M career field and keeps their skills sharp to set our troops apart from their peers.
For Wilson, he believes that military occupational specialty morale-enhancing events such as his battalion's truck rodeo displays “The 3 Ships” amongst unit personnel.
"During these types of events, relationships, friendships, and partnerships can be seen," said Wilson. "The 3 Ships" are critical to establishing capabilities to come together, learn best practices on each service platform, seek improvement, and potentially implement new ideas for the enhancement of future motor transport operator courses.
As the truck rodeo concluded, one 58th (TC) Battalion Soldier embodied the ultimate competitive edge, characteristics of "The 3 Ships," and drive to be the best motor transport operator, as mentioned by Wilson to surpass his fellow 88M peers.
Staff Sgt. Ernest Haefner, a 58th (TC) Battalion motor transport operator instructor, triumphed as the competition's highest scorer in his first truck rodeo. "With this being my first Battalion Annual Organic Truck Rodeo, I was a bit nervous initially on competition day because I was anxious about possibly making mistakes during the events," he said.
To persevere during any competition takes preparation and extensive knowledge. Haefner shared what he attributes to his win. "Despite a few nerve jitters before the competition, I relied on my 23 years of truck driving experience to propel me to victory during the rodeo," said Haefner.
With his first truck rodeo win under his belt, Haefner, a Muncy, Pennsylvania native, explained his thoughts on how rodeos help with providing continued Soldier training in support of mission readiness.
"Transportation rodeos are a great assessment tool to evaluate where Soldiers are and what training is required to meet mission requirements in support of our total multi-component military force," he said. "With the constant evolvement of the Transportation Corps, it is essential that 88M instructors remain up-to-date on training material and equipment to ensure first-rate instruction continues for Soldiers of generations to come."