By: SFC Lucas Nooter
US Army – Retired
In 2004-2005 I spent a year in Iraq as a Heavy Equipment Transporter Driver.
After our combat training in Ft. Eustis and FT. Pickett Virginia, we arrived in
Kuwait and stayed at the Kuwaiti Army's 35th Brigade base. After some final
preparations the time had come to move into Iraq to our post there (Camp Taji)
Our company's mission, the 1452nd Transportation Company, was to work for
various major commands i.e. 1st Armored Division, 1st Cavalry Division,
1st Infantry Division just to mention the most notable ones. We hauled M1
Tanks, 155mm Howitzers, Strykers and anything oversize.
The majority of the company had already moved into Iraq, but a small con-
tingent had been left behind and were about a week behind. Getting ready
to move into Iraq our trucks were loaded with lots of oversized equipment.
My truck was loaded with a water purification trailer. Picture on next page
shows a Het trailer loaded with a Conex container mover, this was the
largest load and the tires overlapped the sides of the Het trailer.
On the eve of our departure there was a final briefing. The convoy com-
mander, a second lieutenant, went over the details but failed to mention
our gun truck escort. When I questioned her about it, she said we were
sharing gun trucks with another unit leaving at the same time. The rule is,
for obvious reasons, no convoy travels in Iraq without a gun truck escort.
However the lieutenant stood her ground and we left the next morning
and proceeded to cross the Kuwaiti border in Iraq. The other unit was in the
lead and the convoy started to stretch out and then the gun trucks in our
unit took off and joined the front part of the convoy. After a while we were
on our own, with only our M16A2 rifles and a couple of SAWS ( Squad
Automatic Weapons) machineguns.
Besides protecting the convoy, the gun trucks also lead the convoy to its
destination. So sure enough without a gun truck to lead us, just before
Baghdad proper, our lead truck took a right turn and went up a highway
overpass straight into Baghdad city.
Later we found out the lead truck should have taken the beltway on the left.
The traffic started to get congested and then the roads were getting narrower
Soon we were going down side streets with cars parked on both sides and
low hanging telephone and electric wires. Naturally with loads 13 to 14 feet
high, our trucks started ripping down the lines. We could not afford to stop,
without gun truck protection. Everyone was on high alert and the co-drivers
had their weapons safeties off. We all expected bullets to start flying. Fortu-
nately after a spell, we saw the other unit pass in front of us. At the next turn
we were back on the main highway and followed the other unit with the gun
trucks to Camp Taji, which is located about 15 miles north of Baghdad. Every-
body's relief was palpable and a lot of frayed nerves needed to settle. The next
picture is of our Platoon Sergeant George Burns holding a bundle of torn
down wires after another mission. This time the lead gun truck got lost and
took us through a small village.