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Military, commercial partners transport gun truck from Iraq.

An American gun truck that once protected convoys in Iraq could soon be on public display thanks to the generous spirit of military and commercial transporters of the Defense Transportation System.

The movement in April of the distinctive vehicle from Iraq to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., was orchestrated by the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

The intent of a proposed gun-truck display is to honor fallen airmen who drove and manned similar vehicles to protect convoys in Iraq, said Bill Chivalette, curator of the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Research Institute at Maxwell Air Force Base.

"We interviewed a member of the 2632nd Air Expeditionary Force Transportation Company who had returned from Iraq," Chivalette said. "At the time, two airmen had been killed while driving combat convoys in Iraq, and we thought there should be a way to educate the Air Force about the unit and its important mission."

Members of the 2632nd arranged the transfer of the gun truck, then moved it from Balad, Iraq, to a port in Kuwait where SDDC took over.

"We arranged transportation aboard the Honor, a commercial vessel belonging to American Roll-On, Roll-Off Carrier that was headed for Beaumont, Texas," said Lt. Col. Marvin Benoit, SDDC's G-3 operations officer. "ARC agreed to move the gun truck at no charge."

While the operations officer was arranging the ocean transit, members of SDDC's domestic distribution branch began coordinating the inland transportation from Beaumont to Alabama.

When the truck arrived in Texas on April 1, SDDC's 842nd Transportation Battalion unloaded the vehicle from the ship and finalized arrangements for its onward movement.

"It took me 20 days to find a carrier to haul this truck free, especially with soaring fuel costs," said Fran Willis, transportation officer for the 842nd in Beaumont. "But Stonier Transportation got the job done for us."

The vehicle was picked up April 21 by trucker Meal Womack, who was under contract by Stonier Transportation Group, a subsidiary of NYK Logistics, Jacksonville, Fla.

This was the company's first visit to Beaumont. said Kip Douglass, Stonier's director of general commodities.

"As soon as we heard about it, we immediately knew we could get it done," Douglass said. "Our company is comprised of a number of former military personnel. All of us have a great sense of patriotism so, without hesitation, we did it."

Womack drove eight hours without a load just to pick up the gun truck, then provided his services to Stonier at cost, Douglass said. In two days, the gun truck had been delivered safely.

The vehicle now waits for the day it will go on permanent display at Maxwell or an other suitable location, Chivalette said.

"Ultimately, we would like a display that will bring attention to a dangerous and honorable job that the Air Force is doing with the Army," he said. "It's important that the public should hear about it."

Patti Bielling

SDDC Headquarters, Fort Eustis
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Author:Bielling, Patti
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2006
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