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    ‘Loaded Up and Truckin’: Arizona National Guard Delivers for Operation Patriot Press

    ‘Loaded Up and Truckin’:  Arizona National Guard Delivers for Operation Patriot Press

    Photo By Maj. Kyle Key | Soldiers from the Arizona Army National Guard’s 222nd Transportation Company...... read more read more

    FLORENCE, AZ, UNITED STATES

    05.26.2022

    Story by Maj. Kyle Key 

    Arizona National Guard Public Affairs

    FLORENCE, Ariz.—Soldiers from the Arizona Army National Guard’s 222nd Transportation Company returned home after hauling approximately two million pounds of munitions over 5,100 miles of desert, mountains and plains in support the U.S. Army’s Operation Patriot Press.

    The 222nd rolled out of Florence on May 6, with 40 shipping containers of heavy artillery rounds and munitions from the Tooele Army Depot, Utah and headed east bound to the Bluegrass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky.

    The 222nd specializes in the movement of containerized, non-containerized, palletized dry and or refrigerated cargo and bulk water products. Hauling heavy munitions from one depot to another thousands of miles away, then conducting loading, staging, and delivery operations is a uniquely different challenge.

    “When combined with different asphalt surfaces, altitudes, and fluctuating temperatures from triple digits to near freezing, making operational changes can become more complex. Those were great conditions for some quality, real-world training for drivers from the Triple Duce,” Cpt. Alexander Neighbors, Company Commander, said.

    “On a tactical level, this mission was significant because it offered opportunities for our drivers to actually experience different road conditions,” Neighbors said. “We drove from low-level, sea-level locations through mountains, snow fall and thunderstorms in the Midwest. Some of it was severe weather…we not only had to worry about ‘hey, please lightning don't strike the cargo’ but also the different elements of traffic.”

    Operation Patriot Press 2022 is an annual training event to enhance military logistical readiness and integrate U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard units for real-world missions during their annual training. The operation was initiated by the U.S. Army Materiel Command to support Joint Munitions Command, headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. Missions like Patriot Press support Army readiness through, asset realignment, storage reform, field maintenance, local and long-haul freight transportation, receiving, configuring, inspecting, managing, issuing, shipping and retrograding ammunition stock.



    The 222nd Soldiers learned to operate in these environments over their 13 days on the highway. “They are much more proficient and tactically inclined based off this mission and how many hours they logged behind the wheel,” Neighbors said. “This was definitely an eye opener for our junior Soldiers. The non-commissioned officers learned a lot about themselves too. For the Triple Deuce, this was a major feat to travel through 10 states and complete the mission ahead of our deadline.”

    Operation Patriot Press benefits individual units participating, but also benefits the U.S. Army Materiel Command and subordinate Joint Munitions Command as well. This year alone, the Arizona National Guard saved the U.S. Department of Defense more than $2.4 million during Operation Patriot Press. Not only did AMC appreciate the cost savings, but they expressed logistical and personnel challenges over the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “They actually got us together at the end of the load and the director spoke to the entire unit explaining AMC’s struggles with getting hazardous cargo moved across the country,” Neighbors said. “AMC said they wished they could just pick up a phone in two weeks and ask us to show back up because we did such a good job.”

    Staff Sgt. Ethan T. Kasun, First Platoon Sergeant, recalled the handoff with AMC. “We received a warm welcome from the civilians at the depots as we rolled in,” Kasun said. “They were able to load so many connexes (shipping containers) all at once. It was a big accomplishment for the unit.”

    The operation also presented an outreach opportunity to positively engage and inform the public. Not only does transportation assets in the National Guard deliver food and supplies in times of need, their main role is to serve as the primary combat reserve for the U.S. Army.

    Kasun said the serious nature of the mission hauling hazardous cargo was excellent preparation for junior troops. “We had 42 vehicles loaded with hazardous cargo on each trailer,” said Kasun who also served as a truck commander during the mission. “It just depended on what load you got at what load site. So that in itself is big. For our Soldiers who have deployed, that's exactly what it was like. It was really cool being a platoon sergeant and being able to explain to my guys who have who have never deployed that this is real world. This is what happens.”

    Kasun took the opportunity to develop one of his junior Soldiers, Spc. Jeremiah Reyes, a Motor Transport Operator. It was his first time ‘putting the hammer down’ across three time zones.

    “You get to experience the beautiful views of going through and between mountains and crossing different states,” Reyes said. “Being able to say that I went across country hauling [hazardous materials] and doing it for the U.S. Army…that’s a really good memory that I'll tell my daughter later on when she grows up.”

    Drivers and the 222nd mechanics were on top of maintenance during the journey and even made repairs and welded broken parts along the way. The convoy had its share of blown tires but there were no major mechanical issues. Like a rolling pit stop, they had most tools and resources to sustain themselves on the mission. Every truck was able to roll in the gate to on its own power.

    Reyes added that the satisfaction of hard work and sense of pride in accomplishing the mission was worth it. “Civilian drivers of semi-tractor trailers just get amazed when we pass by and realize we’re doing the exact same thing they’re doing,” Reyes said.

    Neighbors added that many drivers from the 222nd have commercial drivers licenses and experience as commercial truckers. “Having those personnel be part of this team has been a huge, huge benefit, because they can bestow their knowledge upon the junior enlisted,” said Neighbors. “Their knowledge of ‘hey, here's some things to look out for on the road. Here's some issues you want to keep an eye on.’ So they they're able to pass along that additional information and knowledge that is missed at Advanced Individual Training because we have troops that come in to actually do this every day for their civilian job.”

    The 222nd Transportation Company is headquartered at the Florence Military Reservation in Florence, Ariz. After their performance during Operation Patriot Press 2022, the Joint Munitions Command and AMC requested the Triple Duce again. They are planning to participate in Operation Patriot Press in the spring of 2024.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.26.2022
    Date Posted: 05.26.2022 17:14
    Story ID: 421669
    Location: FLORENCE, AZ, US 

    Web Views: 322
    Downloads: 0

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