• December 19, 2014

There’s always time for Army to march, head to destination

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Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 4:30 am

If there is one thing constant in the Army — any army, for that matter — it’s that there will always come a time to march.

Getting to and from any destination is a vital part of the Army.

Even armies of old had to travel thousands miles, usually on foot, to get to the battlefield.

Nowadays, however, soldiers typically fly and drive to get to a given destination.

When I deployed to Kuwait in 1995, we flew on a chartered 747 from Fort Hood to Kuwait City.

It was a 24-hour flight with short stops to fuel up in New York and Paris. Once we got off the plane at the Kuwait City airport, we loaded onto buses and headed to Camp Doha.

There we boarded tanks, fueled up, collected ammo, then loaded the tanks onto 18-wheelers for transport through Kuwait.

After about a two-hour truck ride, we unloaded the tanks where the highway ended and the sand began. After a couple of hours of driving the tanks over open sand, we set up a defensive perimeter about 15 kilometers from the Iraq border.

There we waited for Saddam Hussein to mount another attack into Kuwait, but it never happened.

But, hey, it’s all about the journey.

Closer to home, there is always a journey when it comes to hitting the training fields at Fort Hood — especially during gunnery.

For a company of M1 tanks, gunnery is a time to test individual crews and tank companies as a whole on their prowess for, as the name implies, shooting live rounds downrange.

Each morning, our company would load up into our tanks and drive on Fort Hood’s tank trails to the next range.

We’d drive for a couple of hours or so in a column formation, then set up at the next range, do some tank maintenance, then prepare to fire in the afternoon and into the night.

On long road marches, with few or no breaks, it’s not a good idea to drink a lot of coffee in the morning. The need to use the restroom can come quickly in a bumpy tank ride, and there’s no bathroom on an M1.

Some guys would use empty water bottles or even empty MRE packages; not the most hygienic way to use the restroom.

But, hey, when you got to go, you got to go.

The destination awaits.

Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the city editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at jbrooks@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468.

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