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950th Transportation Company delivers Polish, Slovak equipment to Szczecin.

The ramp went down at noon Oct. 28, 2005 in the Port of Szczecin, Poland. Within a half hour, the first piece of equipment was rolling off the MV Cape Trinity.

Just another vessel discharge for the 950th Transportation Company? Not quite.

The first piece off was a modified Slovak T-55 tank; not a typical piece of cargo for SDDC. The 950th team documented and discharged more than 300 pieces of Polish and Slovak equipment returning from a rotation in Southwest Asia in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

Located in Bremerhaven, Germany, the 950th Transportation Company, also known as the Bremerhaven Terminal, operates adjacent to the port on the former Carl-Schurz Kaserne. The U.S. Army has operated continuously at the Port of Bremerhaven for more than 60 years. The mission of the Bremerhaven Terminal is to deploy and conduct surface distribution and water terminal operations to directly support and sustain the warfighter in the designated areas of responsibility. The 950th Transportation Company is responsible for all port operations moving Department of Defense cargo throughout Germany, Poland, Russia, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States. Four members of the 950th Transportation Company and one officer from their higher headquarters, 838th Transportation Battalion, deployed to Szczecin to supervise discharge operations. The team consisted of Capt. Mark Hoffmann, officer in charge; Sgt. 1st Class Sheri Little, noncommissioned officer in charge of documentation; Burkhard Bremer, marine cargo specialist; Tony Pfoh, WPS documenter; and Capt. Donna Johnson, 838th Transportation Battalion operations officer.

After meeting with Drobnica--Port Szczecin, the Polish contractor providing the labor for the discharge operations, the team met with 1st Lt. Andrej Pindor of the Polish army to finalize discharge and disposition plans. Both the Polish and Slovak armies provided their own drivers to discharge the various vehicles.

"Despite having to overcome some language barriers, this was a great mission and a great opportunity to show other militaries how the Bremerhaven Terminal gets things done," said Little, who has been assigned to the 950th since February 2004.

Approximately all of the equipment discharged during this mission was unfamiliar to most members of the 950th. The majority of the equipment was Soviet-era tracked and wheeled vehicles, among them BRDMs, BTRs, and OT-64s that served alongside U.S. forces in Kuwait and Iraq. Twenty years ago, these vehicles performed a very different mission; defending the USSR against U.S. forces. Working with Sovietera equipment was a unique opportunity, but the MV Cape Trinity still had one more unique piece of cargo: a United States-produced M-4 Sherman Tank. The M-4 was mass-produced and distributed to several allied countries during World War II, among them Poland. These tanks saw action throughout the world during and after the second World War, including the deserts of Arabia. This particular Sherman was recovered from Iraq and is headed to a museum in Poland.

Throughout the discharge operations, the team found a larger-than-anticipated amount of vehicles deadlined. This didn't slow operations, as the Polish and Slovak militaries were equally disposed to maintenance challenges and were able to quickly discharge the aging and battered vehicles. Once the vessel completed discharge operations, the team stayed in the port to observe the disposition of the equipment by rail.

The 950th once again showed itself capable of accomplishing any mission, anywhere, anytime, as a key member of the Gateway to Europe.

Capt. Mark S. Hoffmann, Operations Officer 950th Transportation Company
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Author:Hoffmann, Mark S.
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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