By Spc. J. P. Lawrence, 42nd Infantry DivisionJune 1, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. " When Staff Sgt. Jerry Antonatos of the New York Army National Guard's 4th Financial Management Detachment drives back home in Queens, he drives a mid-sized sports utility vehicle " a Chevy Trailblazer. When he is here for training, however, Antonatos upgrades to chugging down the highways and back roads of northern New York in that boxy, rugged vehicle known as the High Mobility Multi-purpose Vehicle, or Humvee.
More Soldiers in his unit will soon find themselves driving Humvees, as the 369th Sustainment Brigade is aiming for every single Soldier in the unit to qualify to drive a Humvee.
“For Soldiers, the Humvee is our company vehicle,” said Lt. Col. Daniel E. Harris, 369th Special Troops Battalion commander. “If you have a valid driver’s license, you should be able to drive a Humvee.”
Humvee certification is achieved through a series of tests not unlike that of a civilian driving test, and many units, including Antonatos’, have been spending their time at Fort Drum getting their Soldiers qualified. At some point, the reasoning goes, some circumstances may require Soldiers to drive a Humvee, and when that happens it is important that Soldiers are able to fill that gap.
For instance, Antonatos, who deployed to Afghanistan, said sometimes his Soldiers were tabbed as drivers and required to operate Humvees on missions there and at Fort Drum as well.
“There’s a big need to transport troops and supplies from point A to point B, whether that means the ranges, transporting food, or other details,”Antonatos said. “When we run missions, we have to run Humvees. (If) we can’t drive Humvees, we can’t do the mission.”
While it may seem strange that Soldiers specializing in finance duties are driving trucks bristling with armed and able troops, Antonatos said he accepted this possibility once he signed on to be a Soldier. “Everyone should be able to contribute, no matter what,” Antonatos said. “Although my primary task is financial skills, our secondary is always to support the mission. Sometimes that requires us driving Humvees to support the units that we serve.”
Not that Antonatos is complaining.
“I love that vehicle,” Antonatos said of that vehicle with the four-wheeled drive and the engine that roars like a washing machine or a drill to the center of the Earth. “Humvees are a lot of fun " very tough and rugged and solid. When you go through a pothole, you can feel the bounce and the movement in the Humvee " I wouldn’t do that with my Blazer.”