Eight drivers with the 6966th Transportation Truck Terminal were recently recognized for having driven over a million safe miles in support of U.S. Army operations.
One million miles is equal to 40 times around the earth’s equator and is a significant career milestone for these drivers, often taking decades of daily accident-free driving.
The accomplishment of completing 1 million accident-free miles is as much a mark of pride for the unit as it is for the individual driver, according to Winfried Wilhelm, 6966th superintendent and general manager.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Wilhelm said. “It takes a special type of person to do what my guys do.”
The drivers themselves echoed Wilhelm’s thoughts on the achievement and its meaning to the unit and its personnel.
“Transportation is my life. It’s not a profession. It is my life, my everything.” said Uwe Feldt, transportation operations officer. “We have high safety standards, and having well-maintained vehicles are part of those standards.”
Driving 1 million accident-free miles takes more than just a lot of time behind the wheel, according to Helmut Kraemer, transportation operations supervisor. It also means a lot of time in the maintenance bay, checking, re-checking and checking again.
Kraemer also stressed the importance of constant training and development, because the focus is not just racking up miles. It’s racking up safe miles.
“I am responsible for 162 drivers, and I have to ensure they are getting the proper training and tools they need to be successful and safe,” Kraemer said. “The number of safe miles is what matters.”
Commissioned in 1953 as the 6966th Labor Service Transportation Truck Battalion, the unit was charged with the transportation of ammunition from U.S. depots to units in southern Germany. The unit now is responsible for transporting mail, heavy equipment and general cargo and handle towing missions. The unit has expanded its operations throughout most of Europe, to include Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, France, Italy and Africa.
Over the last three years, 6966th TTT has averaged 5 million miles driven every year, playing an important role during important missions including Noble Partner, Saber Strike, Combined Resolve, Immediate Response and Anakonda 16.
Outfitted with M915A3 truck tractors, Volvo FH-12 truck tractors, and medium and light cargo vans, 6966th has the truck for every job and every mission. Running 24-hour shifts seven days a week, the 6966th begin their day by receiving their missions, properly providing preventive maintenance service and checks on their assigned vehicles and plotting their routes.
Depending on the mission 6966th TTT receives, drivers could do local routes or long-distance routes that take them out of Germany. Local routes accumulate five missions per week, whereas long-distance routes may take a driver a week to successfully complete the mission.
Whether driving locally or long haul to locations as far away as Africa, for most of the drivers, the million mile award is a welcomed recognition, but the satisfaction of a job well-done is what moves them to get behind the wheel every day.
“I love what I do,” said Roland Weichel, truck driver and awardee with over 1.25 million safe miles. “You have to, otherwise you would not be able to achieve such a thing.”
Awarded in this recent ceremony were: Hans Schmitt, 1,025,301 miles; Peter Bauer, 1,028,692 miles; Bernd Heyeck, 1,250,951 miles; Roland Weichel, 1,265,303 miles; Wieslaw Kurpiewski, 1,382,772 miles; Siegfried Schneider, 1,500,000 miles; Herbert Resch, 1,585,577 Miles; and Guenter Echternacht, 1,207,114.