By Sgt. Ferdinand Thomas, 214th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

MCALESTER ARMY AMMUNITION PLANT, Okla. - It takes many different types of service members to accomplish a mission as large as Operation Golden Cargo which is an annual national logistical exercise in which Army National Guard, Reserve and Active component personnel are taking part.

Medical staff helps keep Soldiers in the fight; and convoys in the mission. The 4005th U.S. Army Hospital troops from Houston, Texas provide medical support to Task Force Blue of Operation Golden Cargo. They are taking time out of their annual training mission to help prevent as many medical problems as possible.

“If their Soldiers are sick, they’re ineffective. They need to be healthy to proceed with the mission,” said 1st Lt. Maleeya Rivas from Amarillo, Texas, 4005th officer in charge, and a nurse.

More than 50 Soldiers have been treated for tick and chigger bites, lacerations from falling off trucks, dehydration and allergies since arriving here the first week of June. McAlester’s munitions plant is known for the vast variety of wildlife in its 70-square-mile area of operation. Ticks and chiggers along with armadillos, raccoons and many other animals are running around where the troops lay at night, including Tent City.

Staff Sgt. Michael Day, 4005th noncommissioned officer in charge, said, “Some of these issues we attempt to prevent by ordering Soldiers to wear safety equipment , so they’re well protected if they stumble and fall. And we definitely preach drinking water. Unfortunately, a lot of injuries are aggravated prior injuries. Fortunately, we haven’t seen any major dehydration issue, which is usually the issue when the heat is hitting Category 5 like yesterday.”

Task Force Blue hasn’t had any major dehydration issues or anything else for that matter because of the preventive training and follow ups with their troops. Drinking water is the main stressed issue as well as washing hands regularly and keeping up troop’s hygiene. Day believes hygiene maintenance can be half the battle of keeping troops 100 percent healthy in an environment such as the ‘field.’ The 4005th have also provided sun block lotion and bug repellant to the Soldiers to help them stay safe from Ultra Violet Rays and the different bugs of McAlester.

“I think the Soldiers are listening and doing their part. The command is disseminating, so everyone is doing their part,” said Rivas.

The 4005th hit boots on ground with 12 troops, mainly nurses and medics, and are providing medical support to more than 350 troops from the 821st Transportation Battalion during Golden Cargo. That’s 30 Soldiers to each medical provider. Keeping these Soldiers at their highest level of health and mission ready would be much more difficult without their preventive techniques. And accomplishing the medical unit’s side of the mission is a lot easier when the team is on the same page and focused.

“We work very well together. There have been few infections and this is all because of preventing the issues initially,” Day said. “Training the troops makes the difference.”