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    Rail continues to be an important transportation capability at Fort McCoy

    Fort McCoy supports equipment redeployment by rail for 829th Engineer Company

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | Equipment belonging to the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 829th Engineer Company...... read more read more

    For the many decades of Fort McCoy’s existence, the capability to transport cargo and equipment to and from the installation by rail has always been there, and it’s a capability that will continue, said officials with the installation Logistics Readiness Center Transportation Division.

    During World War II, for example, the railroad at Fort McCoy was one of the main forms of transportation for bringing troops in for training and home after the war as well as moving cargo and equipment in and out of the installation.

    On July 16, former Technician Fifth Grade Donald Whitaker visited Fort McCoy and recalled when he boarded a train and left Camp McCoy after serving two years, six months, and seven days in the Army during World War II. Whitaker also recalled what it felt like arriving by train to get ready to leave the Army.

    “I just remember coming in by train (to McCoy) knowing you were getting out, and we were all saying the sooner the better,” Whitaker said.

    Those earlier days of rail on post did involve transporting people more than today, but rail still remains as important as ever to support the Army’s transportation needs, said Movements Branch Chief Douglas T. Altman with the Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) Transportation Division.

    “Fort McCoy remains very active in the rail operations,” Altman said. “In 2020 alone, we coordinated three rail movements, and it has been continuously active here especially in recent years.”

    In 2019 and 2020, rail movements at Fort McCoy supported the 1158th Transportation Company, 107th Surface Maintenance Company, and 829th Engineer Company of the Wisconsin National Guard and many others.

    The most recent rail movement took place in October where Soldiers with the 829th Soldiers and LRC Transportation Division personnel conducted a redeployment rail operation. The same equipment originally deployed from Fort McCoy by rail in September 2019.

    “The rail offload operation took place between Oct. 26 and 30,” Altman said. “The offload included 37 railcars containing 102 pieces of rolling stock and container emptying operations. It was all completed safely and on time.”

    Conducting rail operations on post has also been done under improved conditions thanks to improvements to the post’s rail infrastructure in recent years, Altman said.

    Rail infrastructure improvements really took off starting in 2016 when eight on-post rail crossings were removed and replaced with new precast concrete panels and 136-pound rails, said Construction Inspection Branch Chief Dan Hanson with the Directorate of Public Works.

    Then further work began to take place with support from the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP) of McAlester, Okla. This work included replacing old rail lines with industry-standard 136-pound rails that improved the installation’s rail capability, Hanson said. The weight designation refers to the weight of each 3-foot section, or 1 yard, of rail.

    Then from 2017 to 2019, MCAAP and Fort McCoy personnel worked together as thousands of railroad ties, thousands of feet of track, and other related work were completed.

    “Everything that was done really helped keep the installation ready to support any rail transportation needs the Army needs to have done here at McCoy,” Altman said.

    Capt. Chris Kauer, 1158th company commander, said in 2019 that working with personnel at Fort McCoy to complete a rail movement was a great experience, and he said it’s nice to have the capability at a military installation in Wisconsin.

    “They (LRC staff) are all excellent at what they do,” Kauer said. “They were really great leading up to and during the rail movement. … We don’t often get to practice this kind of work as a transportation company, so it was very beneficial.”

    As rail operations continue in the future at the installation, Fort McCoy Transportation Officer D.J. Eckland with LRC said he welcomes 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,” he said.

    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, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”



    Date Taken: 11.20.2020
    Date Posted: 11.20.2020 17:08
    Story ID: 383505
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 

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