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NEWS | June 14, 2017

Virginia Guard transporters train on rail and water operations

By Staff Reports |

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 1173rd Transportation Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group conducted training on rail load and seaport operations with active duty U.S. Army personnel during their drill weekend June 9-11, 2017, at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

“The opportunity to partner with active duty transporters at Fort Eustis has enabled outstanding training, and we are extremely grateful for the resources and support we have been provided,” said Capt. Michael Drabowicz, commander of the 1173rd. “Not only were we able to bridge the gap on our ability to train on expeditionary deployment operations, but we provided our Soldiers with what they deserve: dynamic and exciting hands-on training.”

Saturday began with 105 Soldiers receiving classroom instruction on all the technical aspects of rail load operations. Soldiers learned the safe movement of vehicles onto rail cars using spanners and ground guides, how to prepare vehicles to a reduced configuration for transportation, how to properly secure vehicles using the rail car chains and how to safety unload vehicles from rail cars. Soldiers were also briefed on the role of rail within the unit’s mission essential task list.

From the classroom, the hands-on portion quickly took off. After the active duty 88H instructors demonstrated loading and securing one Humvee, the Soldiers split to two training areas. The 1173rd’s NCOs took charge on guiding Soldiers as they loaded and secured six Humvees and three medium tactical trucks per site. After the loads were secured, a locomotive moved the cars, with four Soldiers to ride with the conductor. The Soldiers were selected based on their fitness test and marksmanship scores as well as online training completion.

Sunday’s training began in the morning at Fort Eustis’ 3rd Port with the 10th Transportation Battalion’s operations officer talking to the company on the role of Army Watercraft in supporting Expeditionary Deployment Operations. This was followed by each Platoon receiving a tour of an LSV, the Gen. Frank S. Besson Jr.

The tour was followed by six 1173rd medium tactical trucks being loaded onto the LSV, followed by a classroom on how loads are secured on Army watercraft. After the class, 1173rd Soldiers practiced securing loads onto Army watercraft. This event concluded with 71 Soldiers sailing from 3rd Port to the Ghost Fleet and back.

The day concluded with the 1173rd presenting a plaque to the 10th Transportation Battalion for the outstanding support received over the weekend.

“This is just the beginning,” said Drabowicz. “We’re looking to build on the relationships we’ve developed and make future events even more dynamic. I challenge all my leaders with my command philosophy: Lean forward and catalyze improvement and change. That’s what we’re here for.”

The 1173rd recently transformed into a composite truck company and transferred the company headquarters from Martinsville to Virginia Beach. The new company structure features two platoons of M1075 Palletized Load System trucks and trailers, two platoons of M1083 medium tactical trucks and trailers, a maintenance section, an operations section and a headquarters section.

The mission of a composite truck company is to provide transportation and convoy security support to sustainment brigade operations for a division or corps headquarters. With its organic transportation assets, the company can movement and distribute a wide variety of items including dry and refrigerated containerized cargo, general non-containerized cargo, ammunition, bottled water and bulk water when equipped with tank racks. The company can also assist with unit moves, personnel transportation and provides convoy protection to unit convoys.

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