GATE CITY, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Gate City-based 1032nd Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group embarked on a real-world line haul mission for their annual training Aug. 1-17, 2019, carrying ammunition from the Bluegrass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky to McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Oklahoma.
More than 90 Soldiers took part in the mission, driving M915 trucks hauling M872 or M871 trailers, as well as providing mission command and mission support.
The company traveled from Gate City, Virginia, to Richmond, Kentucky first. There they loaded containers of ammunition onto their trailers before moving out towards McAlester, Oklahoma, a journey of more than 800 miles. The company made the trip between Richmond and McAlester twice, offloading the ammunition in Oklahoma and backhauling empty containers. In total, the unit moved nearly 100 containers of ammunition.
While a movement of that distance didn’t come without challenges, 1st Lt. Christopher Davis, the company commander, said his unit was ready to deal with obstacles along the way.
“The 1032nd faced some maintenance challenges during this operation,” said Davis. “We were able to overcome this by preparing ahead for predictable maintenance issues, as well as coordinating with National Guard FMS shops and units along the route, building those relationships ahead of time, which allowed us to use their maintenance bays and equipment when needed.”
Overall, Davis said the haul was a successful one.
“Not only did the 1032nd succeed in Army Material Command’s mission of moving 99 containers of ammunition and backhauling 99 empty containers,” said Davis. This mission allowed us to train in a real-world scenario, increasing readiness and boosting retention as well.”
The opportunity to conduct a real-world mission for their annual training was an exciting one for the 1032nd’s Soldiers. The commander said his troops were excited and engaged in the lead-up to the line haul, and professional and focused during the operation.
“They were able to do the job they signed up to do in a new environment, hauling ammunition, which most people do not do every day,” said Davis. “I believe it is important to conduct these real-world missions because it allows units to get out of their comfort zones, get out of doing the same thing every year. It is great for retention.
“Very often my Soldiers ask why we can’t do missions like these every year. They enjoy doing their job and driving. We look for every opportunity we can to get the unit out on the road.”
The success of the mission depended on more than just driving the ammunition from one point to another. Davis explained that there are several smaller tasks that are essential to the bigger overall mission, and stressed the importance of proper planning. The unit performed map and physical reconnaissance to select their route and determine fuel stop locations, and planned ahead to secure food, motor pool space, barracks and maintenance shops along the way. The unit also had to complete hazardous materials courses since they were hauling ammunition.
The 1032nd commander said his unit can be proud of the way they performed the mission.
“The 1032nd TC is a good representative of the battalion, group, state and National Guard as a whole, in that we have trained and competent Soldiers and NCOs ready and willing to do their part for the mission,” said Davis. “We took this mission with six months’ notice, five drills prior to execution, and we executed the mission and were successful.”