Features
Under Fire
Truckers are providing an irreplaceable service to our armed forces in Iraq
Despite the kidnappings and casualties in April, American truckers in Iraq are showing their stuff by continuing to haul fuel, supplies and much-appreciated mail to our U.S. troops. OOIDA member Mark Taylor says it best: Truckers will get the job done “no matter what challenges we must overcome.” Here is more of what Mark had to say:

“I’ve been in Iraq for over a month now. Currently stationed in Kuwait, my convoy travels into Iraq to make our deliveries to our troops. My mail truck is a welcome sight to the thousands of heroes fighting the War on Terror.

“It is a different world over here — sand as far as you can see. Many camps are surrounded by sand walls with barbed wire. Floors are plywood laid on the sand, and showers are wet wipes. Sandbags around the tent hold it down. Electricity is provided by diesel generators, and there is sand and grit everywhere.

“Driving out here is interesting. On one mission, I was escorted by two Blackhawk helicopters. The wild camels seem to do everything they can to get hit, but I have not done so … yet.

“The job of the American trucker here is critical to our troops, whether delivering much-needed supplies or a package from home.

“I do miss my family, and the MREs are no match for Renee’s grilled steak, but we all realize that our job here is important and necessary.

“My thanks to all our friends on the OOIDA message board and The Truckin’ Bozo Interactive for the kind words of support, and to Donna Ryun and Barb Wyatt for keeping them going. It’s a wonderful way for Renee (Uglypup-ette) to keep in touch with our extended trucking family. She makes sure I get my Land Line, and it is a welcome sight to all of us truckers over here!”

Mark R. “Uglypuppy” Taylor
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

Larsons

The voice of experience
OOIDA members John and Sissy Larsen have put their truck on ice while John hauls jet and diesel fuel for Halliburton’s Kellogg, Brown and Root subsidiary in Kuwait and Iraq.

After six months in the Middle East, John recently came home to Midland, OR, for a 21-day leave before returning for another six-month stint of what could be a two-year commitment.

The Iraq job isn’t John’s first overseas rodeo. He and his two sons worked together in Libya 22 years ago. He is also an Army veteran of the Korean Conflict era.

With Sissy’s 28 years in the trucking industry and John’s lifetime career as a diesel mechanic, the couple made a good driving team. But now, Sissy and the couple’s trucking dog, BeBop, are waiting at home until the end of John’s tour in Iraq.

Sissy and BeBop hope John comes home in December for his birthday. Incidentally, it will be John’s 70th birthday.

Any plans for retirement? Sissy says, “Heavens no!”

A view from the wash point
If the equipment coming back from Iraq looks unusually clean for something that’s been in the desert for a long time, you can thank Steve Guimond.

The OOIDA member and National Guard sergeant is part of a unit that manages a wash point where redeploying troops clean their equipment before it’s sent back home.

Steve Guimond

“When a unit comes in from Iraq to go home, they must wash their equipment so they don’t bring back anything we don’t have in the states,” Guimond explained. “Like bugs or parasites that may hide in the sand that has built up during the duration of being here.”

Guimond has been in Kuwait since April 2003 with his National Guard unit, the 1136 Transportation Company out of Bangor, ME. Based at Camp Arifjan, the Guard unit is attached to an area group that supports and resupplies the troops in Iraq.

“A year is a long time to be away from the family,” Guimond said. “But I am proud to be serving.”

In addition to managing the wash point, Guimond’s unit serves on guard duty and rotates on various truck missions. He and his fellow soldiers drive 5-ton 931s, hauling supplies and equipment to the airport, seaports and other bases.

He noted that the Army has a large number of trucks invested in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It’s unbelievable how much supplies are trucked by both civilian and military,” he said.

Most truckers in Kuwait are foreigners from India and Pakistan, he said, and a few from the Philippines. Most trucks are European cabovers, though there are a few American-made heavy-haulers used by the oil companies.

“There are a few American trucks with day cabs,” Guimond said in a letter to Land Line. “They are mostly Macks and Western Stars, with a few nice Petes.”

Guimond says the highways in Kuwait are similar to those in the states, except that many Kuwaitis have a penchant for fast, careless driving. He said most Kuwaiti traffic accidents are fatal.

“We see kids riding without car seats,” Guimond writes. “Being a father, I just cringe at the sight.”

Guimond and his unit witnessed the reality of war as units like the 3rd Infantry Division came through the wash point on their way out of Iraq.

“We saw a lot of 3rd ID come through,” Guimond said. “We also saw a lot of wartime destruction on the equipment and on the person mentally.”

— by René Tankersley, feature editor René can be reached at rene_tankersley@landlinemag.com.

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