The Navy detachment’s team of heavy equipment operators finished in first place in the 58th Transportation Battalion’s fifth annual Joint Truck Rodeo Friday at Training Area 228. The battalion’s command team, Lt. Col. Ramon Salas and Command Sgt. Maj. Darron Wilson, awarded the Sailors certificates and Army Achievement Medals.
The yearly contest is designed to boost morale, celebrate individual technical expertise and provide a friendly outlet for the four branches to compete for the title of “King/Queen of the Road,” battalion officials said.
Meals were provided to the service members by the United Service Organizations, who brought a mobile food truck to the event.
“We don’t really deal with each other as often as we should with all the other services, so the intent really is to make sure we’re staying really as one military, all for the United States,” said 2nd Lt. Daniel Quackenbush, executive officer of Company C, 58th Trans. Bn., and one of the organizers of this year’s event. “Every year, we try to build off of last year. We hope to keep it going on forever.”
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines practiced trailer maneuvers at four stations — each developed by a host branch. The Army event tasked service members with 90-degree alley dock backing; the Navy evaluated parallel parking; the Marine Corps examined participants’ ability to complete a question mark alley dock; and the Air Force tested serpentine backing.
Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Martin, motor transport operator (88M) instructor, was one of those evaluators. He said he believes the question mark maneuver is the most challenging task participants must complete.
“All these applications could be used not only in their career but also in the civilian sector,” he said. “This is absolutely one of the (top) things 88Ms look forward to every year.”
As in previous years, the rodeo featured one timed group event where teams of service members from the same branch unloaded a Humvee from a flat rack and secured it to a platform with heavy chains.
Evaluators from each branch scored all participant maneuvers under a strict point system. Every branch’s operator points were added together to determine the rodeo’s team winner.
Navy Chief Equipment Operator Derek McCleary took home the overall individual first place prize and was awarded an additional AAM. Although he did not participate as part of his detachment’s team in last year’s rodeo, he said he believes their ability to win this time around may be due to having extra personnel on hand.
“Last year, we didn’t have the numbers,” he said. “We had about half of what we have now, maybe a third. We almost didn’t have enough people to participate. A lot of these guys that we have participating this year (have) the same background, a lot of tractor trailer experience.”
He intends to compete — and win — again in 2021, if invited.
Salas presented certificates of appreciation to Selden Fritschner with the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, USO volunteers and all participants and instructors of the truck rodeo.
He congratulated the Sailors on their detachment’s first win.
“It is good to see some new blood win,” Salas said. “I thought (the Army) had it in the bag this year, but I guess we did not. On behalf of the 58th Transportation Battalion, thank you guys for competing.”