News: Movin’ on: 539th Transportation Company gets back to the basics
Story by Maj. Joel Anderson
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – After a year of running gun-truck missions and theater sustainment in Afghanistan, the women and men of the 539th Transportation Company. “Punishers” are getting back to the basics of line-haul truck missions right here on the Alaska highways.
Last year at this time, the unit was serving in southern Afghanistan in support of the Marine Corps at Forward Operating Base Leatherneck, as well as other International Security Assistance Force units.
This year, it’s time to get back to basics as Master Sgt. John Docev, the company’s senior truckmaster explained.
“We are setting up a truck rodeo for ourselves, so we can get some of our younger, more inexperienced soldiers some much-needed time behind the wheels of some vehicles they haven’t operated for quite a while,” Docev said.
The soldiers of the “Punisher” Company had been pressed into service in Afghanistan operating MRAP-based gun trucks and palletized load systems, according to the unit’s Assistant Truckmaster Staff Sgt. Darrell Doby.
“Since our sister company from south-of-the (Alaska Mountain)-range is about to deploy to Afghanistan, themselves, we are about to pick-up the home station mission to haul cargo from the Anchorage bases and the Port of Valdez up to our units here at Wainwright and possibly even Eielson [Air Force Base].”
The “Punishers” will tackle these missions, known collectively as “Operation Polar Express” using the Army’s old cargo-hauling standbys, the M-915 tractors and M-872, 40-foot cargo trailers, according to Doby.
“This is a big switch from what our soldiers were used to downrange,” Staff Sgt. Albert Morales, a 539th Squad Leader, said, “plus we have a lot of new people, young soldiers who need additional work behind the wheel in a controlled environment prior to us picking up the Polar Express, but they’ll be ready. We all will be.”
The truck rodeo consisted of nine events involving a tractor-trailer combination more than 40 feet long: staging, preventive maintenance checks and services, a serpentine course, the offset alley, the right angle turn, stop line, parallel parking, straight-line backing to a loading dock, alley docking, trailer uncoupling, and trailer tie-down.
“It’s a pretty challenging course, especially backing a 40-footer through the cones, but it will pay big dividends for us to make sure that our soldiers can safely make the trips they need to so we can complete the missions between here and down south,” Doby said.