Training Puts Versatile Mechanics in the Driver's Seat
By 1st Lt. Jeffery Chemasko
1st Sustainment Brigade
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Mechanics from the 377th Heavy Equipment Transportation Company, 165th CSSB, 1st Sustainment Brigade, a deployed 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) company out of Fort Bliss, work around the clock to keep the company's fleet of Heavy Equipment Transport systems well maintained.
However, many of these Soldiers’ mission has changed from ensuring the vehicles work, to piloting the house-boat sized behemoths on all sorts of missions.
Operating this enormous transport system is no easy task. The vehicle is designed to haul heavy equipment of all types, including the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank.
Before these eager mechanics could jump behind the wheel, they had to go through an intense and thorough driver's training program headed by Staff Sgt. David Deleston, the unit master driver.
To turn the mechanics into capable operators, Deleston, a Lane, S.C., native, methodically led them through each phase of training. The training began with a familiarization of the bobtail tractor itself, and then they combined the tractor and trailer together as complete system.
They then honed their driving skills by driving through serpentine mazes in the motor pool before testing their abilities on roads within the Camp Taji walls - under the supervision of experienced drivers of course.
"These Soldiers were highly motivated and stayed focused throughout the training," said Deleston.
"They are now capable of going on missions and handling the [HET] system properly."
"Driving [the HET] was fun. I loved having this opportunity; it was a great experience," said McAllen, Texas, native, Pfc. first Nancy Lopez.
The Army's Heavy Equipment Transport system, or HET, is capable of transporting a wide range of tactical vehicles, including the Abrams M1 Main Battle Tank, weighing nearly 70 tons. (U.S. Army Photo by 1st Lt. Jeffery Chemasko, 1st Sustainment Brigade)