News: Hitting the road with the 208th
Story by Sgt. Jaime Avila
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - When the average person decides to go on a road trip, the only things they worry about are how they are going to get there and what they are going to bring.
Soldiers of the 208th Transportation Company out of Marana, Arizona on the other hand have a lot more to worry about. With more than 30 vehicles, 70 soldiers and many obstacles to concern themselves with, the soldiers of the 208th have a lot of planning to do before they begin the trip to their final destination.
“It takes a lot of work to accomplish our missions. Getting out here was the biggest part of it. We started planning at least 90 days ahead for this,” said Cadet Mark Garcia, a Tucson, Arizona platoon leader for the 208th Trans. Company.
The 208th Trans. Company is unique unit due to the fact that they specialize in a certain type of distinctive vehicle, the MT1075 Palletized Loading System. The 208th Trans Company has three different types of loading systems, which can load a variety of cargo.
“These things will climb up the side of a mountain if they have to. It can lock out and go into ten-wheel drive. It’s an absolute workhorse, probably one of the most versatile vehicles out here,” said Garcia.
These soldiers were not only tasked with completing their training missions here for Combat Support Training Exercise 91, but they were also tasked with convoying all the way over from Arizona and back once they are done with their training. So keeping their vehicles up and ready to go is also a challenge they must overcome.
“These are the vehicles we are taking back home with us, so we need them to be in tip-top working order for both training missions and to get us back home,” said Garcia.
Maintaining the vehicles is a job that is also tasked out to the soldiers who are operating them. They maintain the vehicles they drive and when they encounter something they cannot fix, they send it out for repairs.
“Our soldiers are out there everyday, working on their vehicles and making sure the equipment is up to standard. We are tasked with completing our missions and doing it safely,” said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Edwards, a Tucson, Ariz. native and a platoon sergeant with the 208th Trans. Company.
In addition to all the preparation, these soldiers do to begin their mission, they also go through a lot of training to be ready for their CTSX experience.
“We put our guys through a lot of convoy operations training, especially because we have a lot of brand new soldiers here straight out of Advanced Individual Training,” said Edwards.
Because of the unit’s abilities, they are tasked with real-world missions alongside training missions while participating in the CSTX.
“We help with transporting cargo for different units around the base. We can move cargo for anyone on post and are also responsible for participating in the training exercise,” said Edwards.
Although these soldiers are tasked with a tough mission, they work together to get it done.
“As long as there is a group effort and everyone knows his or her role, it’s pretty easy for us to do our job,” said Sgt. Ventris Triplett a Mesa, Ariz. native and squad leader for the 208th Trans. Company.