More than 30 transportation Soldiers gathered recently on Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern to participate in the 66th Transportation Company’s Truck Roadeo.
A Truck Roadeo is a competition where Soldiers in the transportation field compete in various truck driver centric events such as preventive maintenance checks and services, parallel parking, controlled breaking and forward and backwards serpentine, in an effort to win the title of the “best driver” for their vehicle of expertise.
This year’s Roadeo was the first one held by 66th Trans. in more than eight years and included Soldiers from the 635th Movement Control Company, Headquarter and Headquarters detachment, 39th Trans., Co. and 66th Trans. Co.
“The last one I can remember they had was back in 2003,” said Sgt. 1st Class Byron Simpson, a master driver with 66th Trans. Co. and Roadeo coordinator. “The reason I was told why they stopped having them was because of the multiple deployments down range. It was a legacy so hopefully we can bring it back and continue it on once a year from this day forward.”
Simpson went on to explain how truck roadeos used to be a huge event back in the day and how transportation Soldiers from units all over the U.S. Army Europe would come from near and wide to compete.
In this year’s roadeo the competitive categories of vehicles were light, medium and heavy. The M1097 Humvee was considered the light vehicle, the M925 5-ton truck was the medium vehicle and the M915 truck with trailer was the heavy vehicle.
Soldiers were required to negotiate their particular vehicle through eight different obstacles while being timed. The driver of each vehicle was penalized for each mistake they made while navigating through the course. Everyone who competed started out with 8,000 points and depending on their infractions they could lose anywhere between 0 to 1,000 points per obstacle.
Prior to the course, the competitors took a written exam and were tested on their ability to conduct a precise PMCS on their vehicle.
“This is basically a competition of driving skills,” said Staff Sgt. Mario R. Coursey, a motor transport operator with 66th Trans. and roadeo judge. “In order to succeed, the drivers have to not only make sure they don’t make mistakes but also make sure they judge their distancing right, look through their mirrors and other things of that nature.”
“Competitions like this build moral within the Soldiers because they see what they are working for, why they need a license and some of the obstacles they may face when they get out there on the civilian roads,” Coursey added.
During this competition orange cones were used as road lines and boundaries and plastic barricades were used to simulate walls and curbs.
As with every competition only one person or one team can win. Sgt. Reinaldo Ramos, a mechanic from 66th Trans., took home first place in the light vehicle category; Pfc. James Wilhite, a motor transport operator with 66th Trans, took home first place in the medium vehicle category; Pfc. Justin Charles, a motor transport operator with 66th Trans, took home first place in the heavy vehicle category.
The first place winners received the Army Achievement Medal, a first place trophy and a commander’s coin.
“It boosts moral because the truck roadeo is a long time tradition in the transportation corps,” said Charles. “So it’s an honor to be able to come in and win first place in the 915 event.”
“My platoon here at the company took 1st place in the 915 and 5-ton competition so we got a little bit of rubbing in to do to the other units,” Charles added.