Soldiers inspect incoming convoys at Marez

Story and photos by U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Twist
13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATION LOCATION MAREZ, Mosul, Iraq — Convoys, which regularly travel throughout Iraq, visit the inspection yard when they enter Contingency Operation Location Marez, Mosul, Iraq, for an inspection that keeps the COL safe.

Capt. Dwight O. Smith, commander of the 506th Quartermaster Company out of Fort Lee, Va., said the inspection yard has a significant role in the protection of Marez.

“We’re the first line of defense, a safety net before we allow vehicles on to the COL,” said Smith, a San Francisco native.

The Soldiers at the inspection yard have an in-depth knowledge of their equipment, the confiscation of items, checking passports and making sure no contraband or anything detrimental gets onto the base, he said.

Spc. Ralph A. Pabon, a food service specialist with the 506th who inspects trucks at the yard and a Virginia Beach, Va., native, said after vehicles come through the gate, Soldiers inspect them inside and out for items that look like remotes, cell phones, drugs and alcohol.

Sgt. Akeem J. McQueen, the sergeant of the guard for the inspection yard with the 506th and a Montgomery, Ala., native, said complacency can be an issue for Soldiers when convoys of 50 to 200 trucks come through.

The sergeant of the guard oversees paperwork inside the office, as well as the inspection of the trucks and their passengers, he said. He moves around and checks the inspection yard to maintain accountability of all Soldiers and their equipment, he said.

“Expect the unexpected,” he said.

Pabon said the Soldiers should be on their best behavior when the civilians are present. No matter the situation or how well Soldiers know the civilians, the proper checks need to be performed. If a Soldier fails to do his job, the safety of the COL is directly affected, he said.

He said Soldiers do not want to disrespect anyone’s culture, which is why he always has an interpreter present.

“You don’t want them to hate you when they come through,” said Pabon.

After leaving the inspection yard, vehicles go to the Mobile Control Team, which inspects the convoy and moves the cargo to its proper destination, said McQueen.


news photo
Spc. Ralph A Pabon, a food service specialist with the 506th Quartermaster Company out of Fort Lee, Va., and a Virginia Beach, Va., native, inspects inside a truck after a convoy came through the inspection yard Oct. 3 at Contingency Operation Location Marez, Mosul, Iraq.
(U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Ryan Twist)