In recent years, Fort McCoy has supported one or two Army rail movements on average each year for a variety of reasons but for 2022 the Fort McCoy rail operations support team pick up steam and rolled down the tracks to support significant rail movements and deployments in March, July, and November.
Fort McCoy’s rail operations support team is staffed by people working with the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) Transportation Division. This includes people operating locomotives to move railcars in place for loading, people working with units and unit Soldiers to get training on how to load railcars, people to assist with moving cargo, and more.
The first rail movement took place from March 17-21, said the Installation Transportation Officer Douglas “Terry” Altman with the LRC Transportation Division.
“Transportation Division personnel provided blue flag protection and safety oversight to the 485th Engineer Company as they staged, marshalled, loaded, and chained down 104 pieces of vertical engineer equipment (1,243 short tons) onto 40 railcars in inclement weather with zero safety accidents or mishaps,” Altman said. “That was a movement to Port Arthur, Texas, and then later for deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.”
In a story written by Public Affairs Specialist Chris Hanson with the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office in March 2022, he talked with 1st Lt. Payden Howard, 485th Engineer Company executive officer, about the rail movement.
“Today we are executing railhead operations in order to stage out our equipment and gear in preparation for movement to our ultimate destination,” Howard said in the story. “A little snow doesn’t stop us.” Howard was describing the spring snowstorm they had to contend with during the rail movement.
Then in mid-July, the rail operations support team saw another rail movement take place. The team and Soldiers with the 107th Support Maintenance Company, a Wisconsin National Guard unit based in Sparta, teamed together July 20-21 to unload 24 railcars at Fort McCoy.
The railcars were loaded with 83 pieces of equipment the 107th was bringing back from a training location away from Fort McCoy, said Dean. R. Muller, unit movement coordinator/traffic management specialist with the LRC Transportation Division.
“The unit took about one and a half days to unload the railcars,” Muller said.
Altman added, “This rolling stock was about 1,000 short tons, and the work was done in inclement weather with zero safety accidents or mishaps.”
And often after completing a second rail movement, that might be it for the year on post, but not in 2022. On Nov. 1, Fort McCoy began supporting a third rail movement for the 411th Engineer Company — an Army Reserve engineer company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“Transportation Division personnel provided blue flag protection and safety oversight to the 411th Engineer Company as they staged, marshalled, loaded, and chained down 128 pieces of engineer equipment (2,068 short tons) onto 52 railcars with zero safety accidents or mishaps,” Altman said. “This movement was also to Port Arthur, Texas, where the equipment was also bound for deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.”
“This rail movement included five LRC staff members supporting the 411th,” Muller said. “The 411th Soldiers did complete the Multimedia Rail Safety Course prior to completing their work on loading the railcars. Our staff members also served as safety support staff for the movement.”
Besides completing the rail movements with the units that had equipment involved in the loading of the railcars, the Fort McCoy rail support team also had to work with organizations and personnel across the military and the transportation system spectrum to ensure these movements were completed successfully, Altman said.
Some of the military organizations where coordination was completed through by Fort McCoy personnel were U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Central, U.S. Army Reserve Command, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, 416th Engineer Command, 597th Transportation Brigade, 841st Transportation Battalion, 842nd Transportation Battalion, 732nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and the Wisconsin National Guard.
Some of the civilian organizations they’ve coordinated with included the BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railway, Quality Transportation Services, Farrell Lines, Transportation Coordinators' Automated Information for Movements System II Helpdesk, and the Cargo Movement Operations System Helpdesk.
And just putting the numbers together for the three movements, the Fort McCoy rail operations support team helped load and move 315 pieces of equipment on 116 railcars that was approximately the equivalent of 4,311 short tons of cargo.
As rail operations continue in the future at the installation, LRC officials said they welcome each and every opportunity to demonstrate the capability.
“Rail is one of our strategic transportation missions, and rail movements allow us to exercise our capability,” Altman said.
Fort McCoy was established in 1909 and its motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.”
Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”
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