The Army has a variety of vehicles Soldiers may find themselves driving during their career. Some may drive tanks, while others may drive personnel carriers or smaller vehicles. No matter what the mode of transportation, they need to be proficient in its maintenance and operation.
Soldiers assigned to the 10th Mountain Division (LI) competed in a Truck Roadeo on June 24-25 in front of Bldg. 280 to test their skills against each other in a Mountainfest tradition.
Once Soldiers arrived, they were given a briefing that covered safety and course expectations. They also were inspected to ensure they had the proper personal protective equipment and a valid military driver’s license.
Sgt. 1st Class Bernard W. Lithkousky, a platoon sergeant assigned to 110th Transportation Company, served as noncommissioned officer in charge of the competition. He said there was a good turnout of competitors as well as a mix of lower enlisted and NCOs.
The competition consisted of eight stations, which included a written exam, preventative maintenance checks and services, serpentine, controlled stop, diminishing clearance, straight line, parallel parking and offset alley.
The written exam was specific to the vehicle with which each Soldier competed, allowing them to showcase their knowledge. Soldiers tested on a Humvee, a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, or a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.
After the first hurdle was complete, some Soldiers donned their gear and were directed to conduct PMCS on a vehicle.
Soldiers are taught the importance of maintenance early in their career. Some Soldiers considered this the easiest event based on familiarity.
“The easiest event is the PMCS,” said Spc. Russell J. Edgett, a truck driver assigned to 110th TC. “We do that almost every day.”
After the exam and PMCS were complete, Soldiers got in a vehicle and began to navigate the lanes. Several Soldiers drove the vehicles with a trailer attached.
The serpentine course tested each Soldier’s ability to drive in a figure-eight pattern around barrels and remain in continuous movement forward and backward within the boundary.
Some Soldiers initially thought this was going to be the hardest event, because they had to drive backwards.
“I was a bit nervous not having a ground guide,” said Sgt. Ryan F. Rice, an unscheduled maintenance NCOIC assigned to 511th Military Police Company. “You’re taught in the Army to always have two ground guides when backing up, and it’s the first time I have been told to back up on my own.”
The stop line event was next on the Soldiers’ journey.
Soldier were required to approach the stop line moving forward, maintaining a normal driving position, and stop the vehicle’s front bumper on the marked line.
Immediately following the stop line event was the diminishing clearance.
Soldier had to make a continuous forward movement and maneuver the vehicle between two cones without displacing them or stopping the vehicle. The first set of cones were placed nine feet, six inches apart, and the second set eight feet, two inches apart.
Soldiers were not out of the woods yet. The straight line event was still between them and victory.
Soldiers had to make continuous forward movement running the right side-tires between an 80-foot path of cups, ensuring they did not touch any of them. The cups were emplaced four inches wider than the widest tire on the vehicle.
Up to this point, Soldiers mostly had to move around obstacles, but the next event required them to park instead.
Soldiers were required to position a vehicle between a set of cones, which simulated a parking space, and stop when the entire vehicle was within six inches of them. Drivers were allowed two changes of direction.
Only one station was left for the Soldiers to conduct before the Roadeo was complete.
Offset alley required Soldiers to maneuver a vehicle through barricades, offset with 15 inches of clearance on each side of the vehicle, in a continuous motion without striking the barricades.
Organizers called the Truck Roadeo a success, even for the Soldiers who did not win. Being able to complete the course safely and learn from mistakes can be enough to feel a sense of accomplishment.
“For the younger enlisted, it builds confidence in what they already trained on,” Lithkousky said.
He said Soldiers can return to their units with some bragging rights and perhaps train on some areas where they saw improvement was needed.
When the dust settled, it was Spc. Michael A. Kell Jr., a mechanic assigned to 110th TC, who was recognized as the winner during a ceremony June 26 at the Salute to the Nation.
“I was a little ecstatic,” Kell said. “I didn’t know I was getting an award. I thought I was going to get a hand shake and a ‘thanks for playing,’ and I would have been fine with that, but this works too.”