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

MCALESTER ARMY AMMUNITIONS PLANT, Ok. - Everyone likes to win. Operation Golden Cargo allows the McAlester Army Ammunitions Plant civilians and U.S. Soldiers to do just that; win. MCAAP civilians provide experience and continuity to the units on ground and handling dangerous munitions, while the Soldiers get valuable training and operational experience.

“We’ve got great support from the troops. They’re working hard,” said Bob Impson, MCAAP work leader. “Them doing what they’re supposed to do helps us do what we’re supposed to do and ultimately makes the mission a success.”

Units like the 261st Ordnance Company are using this instruction to improve training for the troops. Some of their Soldiers are combat experienced and have performed their military occupational specialty in a major operation. The newer Soldiers, however, have not had these opportunities and Golden Cargo is providing that training they would need for a combat zone.

“Golden Cargo is just what we needed for our younger Soldiers who just joined the Army,” said Spc. William Holder, a forklift driver with the 261st from Louisa, Ky. “In a combat zone these types of missions are what we have to accomplish every day. Having our privates open their eyes in an operation where we handle munitions and are not shot at is best so they’ll have an idea of what’s at stake if the bullets are flying as well,” said Holder.
The Soldiers’ training stretches beyond just driving safely from one location to the next. Civilians like Impson and Harold Breckenridge take the time to help troops get certified on the forklift and achieve higher levels of safety when dealing with munitions.

“We are here to ensure the military munitions teams are getting things done in a uniform manner,” Breckenridge said.

Breckenridge is one of a few workers that brings more than 35 years of experience moving munitions and has worked Operation Golden Cargo since its inception. He describes the plant as a family atmosphere for the civilians who work here and every summer, he said, more troops become members of this family. And guys like Breckenridge and Impson welcome them with open arms. Breckenridge added, camaraderie and morale greatly help make operations like Golden Cargo succeed from year to year.

Phase I of Operation Golden Cargo is less than 48 hours from being complete. Civilians are continuing to take a step back and teach while the troops step forward and learn. And as a result the mission is completed with the highest safety measures while bringing more troops into the MCAAP family.