By Staff Sgt. Christopher Land, 319th MPADAugust 10, 2009
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Aug. 7, 2009)-- The first hints of the sun's arrival colors the eastern sky and the diesel engines of M915 line-haul trucks are roaring in the trailer transfer point at Equipment Consolidation Site 66 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
It's morning at Golden Cargo and the Soldiers of the 189th Trailer Transfer Point Detachment, Council Bluffs, Iowa, are organizing convoys for their trips to McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, McAlester, Okla., and Crane Army Ammunition Activity, Crane, Ind.
While the Soldiers participating in Golden Cargo perform a vital mission for Joint Munitions Command by helping them realign assets at their depots or deliver them to sites for demilitarization, it is also a golden opportunity for transportation Soldiers to practice their military skills in a real-world situation.
"It lets them put their hands into the work," said Master Sgt. John Stearns, the acting sergeant major of the 352nd Corps Support Service Battalion, Macon, Ga., which is the unit responsible for feeding, housing, and taking care of the needs of the Golden Cargo Soldiers assigned to and convoying to and from Fort Leonard Wood.
The 189th's commander, 1st Lt. Reid Hastings, pointed out that there is a lot of classroom time on battle-assembly weekends for Reserve Soldiers, so a mission like Golden Cargo is a change of pace for those troops.
"When they finally get to do the job they're trained for, they enjoy it," said Hastings.
His Soldiers echoed his statements.
"We've been doing what our unit's supposed to be doing, and it's fun learning," said Spc. Nick Petersen, a motor transport operator with the 189th who lives in Omaha, Neb.
What the unit is "supposed to be doing" is facilitating the transition of equipment from one unit to another.
Motor transport operators driving for the 424th Transportation Company, Galax, Va., and the 428th Transportation Company, Jefferson City, Mo., convoy daily to and from Fort Leonard Wood, and the loads of explosive cargo that they haul from Crane and McAlester, respectively, have to be traded -- along with the trailers -- each evening so that the convoys can leave on time each morning.
When the convoys roll in each evening, the drivers park their trailers and drive their tractors to the fuel point, which is operated by 189th personnel. After the trucks are fueled and checked for any problems by the drivers and maintenance personnel, the drivers move to a new set of trailers that are loaded with cargo bound for the sites they left earlier in the day.
After taking their Department of Transportation-required rest break, the drivers perform their final checks, complete their paperwork, and head for the gate- all under the watchful eyes and guiding hands of the 189th Soldiers.
Even with all of those moving pieces, the drivers are still impressed with the 189th's efficiency.
"They're on it," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Williams, a platoon sergeant and mechanic for the 428th who served as the convoy commander for multiple Golden Convoy 2009 convoys traveling between McAlester and Fort Leonard Wood. "There's no wait time. They get you in. They get you out."
That efficiency is a result of the training his troops have received, according to the detachment's commander.
"This is the first time we've gotten to set up a trailer transfer point as a unit," said Hastings. "It's a good training experience. When my unit comes to a different site, and we come up against different obstacles, we get training in how to establish a trailer transfer point from scratch." The unit had the Golden Cargo trailer transfer point here up and running in a day, he added.
When the last remnants of the sun are fading from the western sky, the 189th Soldiers are often still hard at work, doing whatever it takes to get the convoys out on time.