By Sgt. Marcus Fichtl, 8th MP Public AffairsNovember 29, 2012
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- It was past midnight at Wheeler Gulch as Soldiers from the 25th Transportation Company, 524 Combat Service Support Battalion, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th TSC, redeployed from Afghanistan after a yearlong deployment, Oct. 12.
The 170 Soldiers conducted more than 200 convoy missions to more than 20 different forward operating bases in Regional Command-South.
After a year, and a half-million miles of nonstop convoy operations on some of Afghanistan's toughest roads, 1st Lt. Jacob Rebo, executive officer, said a little sleep deprivation on the final convoy home didn't phase him. If anything, he said, there was no other way to come in than in the middle of the night like they had done on countless missions in Afghanistan.
"Our motto is always forward," said Rebo. "It's what we embodied with our unit; it's what sets us haulers apart."
The 25th Trans. faced a constant mission, with ever-present challenges. Unlike other units, where chess-like set pieces define a deployment, the haulers and truckers of the 25th played a never-ending volley of tennis -- bouncing from one FOB to the next. They represented the lifeblood flowing through the arteries that connected coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The enemy recognized its importance, as well.
In early June insurgents hit one of the company's convoys and wounded two Soldiers. The hit didn't stop the convoy.
In retrospect, the Army could have removed the reverse gear and saved money on the trucks, because Rebo and his Soldiers weren't going to use it. They only knew one direction: Forward!
"When we were hit, we fought back and pressed on," said Rebo. "There is no going back for us."
They knew the difference every convoy made. To leave an outlying FOB without its supplies could spell catastrophe for their mission and morale. They could see it in the Soldiers' faces every time they rolled through gates.
"We could see the effects we made on the battlefield," said Rebo. "It was gratifying to see the differences we made."
For Rebo, one major mission stood out and showcased the effect of the transportation unit more than others.
"We backhauled an entire brigade," said Rebo. "We closed out an entire FOB from July to August."
It was a feat normally described with countless statistics, tonnage numbers and miles, but to the 25th Trans. Co. that mission and the entire year could be described more simply.
"It was a whole lot of haulin'," said Rebo. "A whole lot of haulin forward."