FORT STEWART, Ga. - Army truckers are an interesting bunch. They
work long hours, receive none of the recognition, but live for the
Soldiers with the 298th Transportation Company are
hauling fuel across the eastern seaboard as part of the
Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Training Exercise (QLLEX), the most
significant petroleum distribution operation in the Army. I have
arrived at a training outpost in the woods of Georgia to cover the
With the modernization of our Army comes the need for
more energy to sustain military operations. This is why ... despite
the public perception of GIs as men who storm beachheads in France
... the vast majority of Soldiers serve in some kind of support role.
Truck drivers being one of them.
It is oftentimes a thankless
job, but somebody has to get fuel and water to the troops, or our
military would fall apart.
The sun sets on another Georgia sky as truck drivers with the
298th Transportation Company huddle together with members of the
327th Quartermaster Battalion for their evening safety brief and
update, during the Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise (QLLEX),
June 10, 2014. The 2014 QLLEX is being used this year to provide a
testing platform for two new capabilities being considered for the
liquid logistics community. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William A.
“Without fuel nothing runs, without transportation,
nothing moves,” Several truckers explain, as they escort me
to the 298th Headquarters. This is the perspective of a
We approach a canvas tent, and the first
thing to be noticed is a large sign which reads:
10 June – hot
12 June – ridiculous
This is an accurate assessment of Georgia. Inside is a meager
setup for an office: in the far corner sits a radio communication
system manned by two perspiring Soldiers, and to the left is a
foldable table with several laptops. Strategically placed fans buzz
with the constant stream of air to combat the heat.
the type of living conditions the 56 truckers of the 298th will have
to deal with during QLLEX. When they are not on the road ensuring
the delivery of fuel, truckers are stuck with the heat.
the outpost begins winding down for the day, a dust-caked tanker
rolls to a stop outside, and the 298th Truck Master, Sgt. Arthur
McDonald, dismounts the vehicle. He rips off his soaked ACU top and
plops himself down in a seat next to me.
“This is somewhat
similar to running in Iraq,” he said, wiping sweat from his brow.
“Today we hauled 50k.”
With the massive fueling exercise
underway, the Penn. based 298th has found themselves on the road
quite a bit. A map on the table highlights refueling operations
being conducted all over the south: from Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia,
to Charleston, South Carolina.
“This is the farthest we've
hauled petroleum south,” added McDonald, who coincidentally, hails
from Oil City, Pennsylvania.
If it was not for annual
training, most truckers would not get enough driving time, McDonald
“They want to drive. That's why they joined.”
That sentiment appears to be what motivates these Soldiers through
McDonald looks over to the headquarters platoon
sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Nikolai, and asks if showers have
been delivered to the outpost yet.
“Yup,” Nikolai responds.
A slight smile then lights up McDonald's face. There will be
showers now, a small bit of relief.
Delivered, of course, by
By U.S. Army Sgt. William A. Parsons
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