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    Army Reserve unit completes real life cargo mission

    Removing shipping materials

    Photo By Maj. Dan Marchik | Pfc. Jonathan Wolworth of Crystal Lake, Ill., removes packing materials from the...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Dan Marchik 

    368th Public Affairs Detachment

    CONCORD, Calif. When the Black Eagle cargo ship came into port in San Francisco, they had a problem. There was no one to unload their ship because the longshoremen who normally perform that job were not around because of contract issues. The Army Reserve was called up and with only ten days notification the 826th Ordnance Company, out of Madison Wis., was on site ready to perform that job.

    The 826th normally issues and inspects ammunition, but this was a mission of a much larger scale; a scale that consisted of 1250 containers of ammunition. The soldiers were tasked with unloading the 20 foot long steel containers from the ship, organizing it on trucks and getting it ready to move to its final destination on trains and trucks with assistance from another Reserve unit. The 826th had to do this on the same timeline as the experienced civilians normally who performed the job because of the ship’s schedule. Once the ship is unloaded, it had to be inspected before it can be loaded again, which added additional pressure to get the job done quickly.

    “It’s a real good opportunity to come out here and not only show them we can do this job, but that we can do it quickly,” said Staff Sergeant Scott Shearer.

    The soldiers, whose civilian jobs range from ballroom dance instructors to computer network technicians, dropped everything in the civilian world to complete the mission of unloading the containers from the ship. This was far different from previous missions the 826th has done in the past. Most of the soldiers have never been on a cargo ship, much less unloaded one.
    “Working the ship is a whole new experience for all of us,” said Staff Sgt. James Lisk.

    It should come as no surprise that the 826th hit the ground running as soon as they arrived. Many of the soldiers brought their civilian skills to work with them, like those with heavy machinery experience and hazmat knowledge. The ability to incorporate civilian skills into a military mission is essential for Army Reserve soldiers as they support the active duty component of the Army.

    “The Army Reserve provides flexibility and can deliver an on call capability to the total army mission. Our soldiers responded to this mission within a very short time frame and had great support from their employers and family members,” said Colonel Robert Carlson, commander of the 646th Regional Support Group in Madison Wisconsin, the 826th’s higher command.

    The soldiers all agreed that this is a good experience and one that helped them get a bigger picture of the entire ammunition handling process. Spc. Anthony Harmon said the soldiers got experience with equipment they don’t normally use. Working with the other units and civilian contractors made it more interesting and helped build a more educated, capable unit. This makes the Army Reserve an even greater asset to the Army.

    “Being out here and just seeing a different aspect of what happens with ammunition outside what we normally do with it is still a good experience. It definitely helps us understand the process of what goes on. Normally we only focus on [what happens] inside the ammunition supply point,” said Harmon.

    The 826th worked with the civilians on the ship as well as the 711th Transportation Company, Seaport Operations, of Valeo Calif. The 711th’s mission started where the 826th’s mission ended. Once the containers were offloaded from the ships and placed on trucks, the 711th moved the containers to train cars for transportation to their final destination. Not only did the two units work together but they got a better understanding of each others’ jobs.

    “It’s very good to get the two different types of units in here and just be able to share knowledge with each other on what their missions are and what our missions are,” said Shearer.

    “We’ve been able to integrate pretty much seamlessly. I think we work really well together,” said First Lieutenant Douglas Miller, company commander of the 711th.

    Despite the excitement of a mission such as this, there remains a real danger that comes with handling ammunition. In 1944, this same location experienced one of history’s most powerful man-made, non-nuclear explosions when a ship loaded with munitions exploded. The explosion killed 320 men, destroyed two ships and damaged buildings in 12 nearby towns. Maintaining the safety of everyone involved is top priority and where civilian experience again comes into play. The hazmat training Soldiers receive in the civilian world can be passed on to other soldiers to build upon training received in the Army.

    The 826th overcame not only a somewhat unfamiliar mission, but also some of the worst weather this part of California has seen. They were able to take advantage of the time when the terminal was shut down due to weather by conducting other training.
    “Everyone stayed really motivated during the mission”, said officer in charge Chief Warrant Officer David Laack.

    The 826th completed the mission successfully and returned to their civilian lives with more experience and knowledge to use the next time they’re called upon.



    Date Taken: 12.04.2012
    Date Posted: 12.09.2012 12:42
    Story ID: 98999
    Location: CONCORD, CA, US 

    Web Views: 94
    Downloads: 1