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Hell on Wheels ready to roll into Afghanistan
Soldiers from 396th Trans. Co., 87th CSSB, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd ID, conducts convoy brief to Soldiers prior to training mission. - photo by Courtesy Photo

Fort Stewart, Ga.


Afghanistan will soon be the next home for the 396th Transportation Company, 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Third Infantry Division. This soon and upcoming deployment to support Operation Enduring Freedom has had the Hell on Wheels Company going a hundred miles a minute ever since the preparation started back at the turn of the new year.

Preparation kicked off with the change of command in January when Cpt. Willson, took command of 396th TC. The company's first order of business was a rotation to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Cal. This mock deployment put the company through rigorous training. To train for the upcoming mission to Afghanistan, 396th TC's main focus was running Convoy Escort Teams. This allowed the Soldiers to gain knowledgeable experience on the equipment they will use in Afghanistan. Some Soldiers had experience with the equipment, but most did not. The company was excited about the opportunity to actually use the equipment and learn the ins and outs.

"It is always a good thing when Soldiers are able to expand into new experiences," said Staff Sgt. Timothy Bowden, of 396th TC. "It allows [the Soldiers] to learn new tasks; it makes a more complete Soldier."

The missions were standard; convoy commanders and their assistants created their CET teams and put together a plan to complete each mission that came down. Once the convoy hit the road to transport the supplies needed, it was all about communication.

The Hell on Wheels learned very quickly the importance of functioning radios and etiquette. Maps and map reading were also essential as a few found out. It is very easy to make a wrong turn.

After a grueling 28 days of NTC, with very little sleep and mission after mission, the training was complete. The excitement built within the company of the return home from NTC however, everyone knew that the training had just begun.

The 396 TC trained on a multitude of ranges: M16, M2, M249, and Convoy Live Fires.

The most notable training event after NTC had to be 396th TC's trip to the Fort Stewart Digital Multi-Purpose Range Complex, which hosted the Assistant Secretary of the Army. This was the first time a sustainment unit had trained on this type of range.

This range was built mainly for Combat Arms Units to train on. The 396th TC used their knowledge and experience gained from NTC to roll through this range in a very successful effort and prove that the company can and will be successful in a CET team mission.

"The Soldiers are motivated and excited," Staff Sgt. Dewayne Kelly said. "They are handling these training events well and will perform well down range."

After successfully completing the training events and classes to prepare the 'Hell on Wheels' for deployment, the company is continuing preparation and awaiting orders to ship out.

"I'm ready to go and see what it's about," Pvt. Deliol Valasquez said, as this will be his first deployment. "We have been training and working really hard, and I feel that I'm ready."

With block leave commencing now and the company off enjoying their Family and friends for some rest and relaxation, the excitement still builds as the deployment draws near. There are a few last minute things to be put in place when they return from leave, but all in all, this company is physically and mentally ready to support the United States of America in Operation Enduring Freedom.

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