PACKING A PUNCH
Strykers loaded onto ships for California
Relocating a Stryker team is no ordinary move
STORY SUMMARY »
Some 4,000 25th Infantry Division soldiers and 310 of the Army's latest combat vehicle -- the 19-ton, eight-wheeled Stryker -- will leave for Southern California and then later to Iraq and are not expected back in the islands for at least 18 months.
The Strykers and 2nd Brigade Combat Team members will stop first in Southern California for two months of training and certification before they ship out to Iraq in November.
Positioning the Strykers and another 600 Army vehicles, Humvees, trailers, vans and artillery pieces in the cargo bay of the 579-foot civilian cargo vessel Jean Anne was like working "a giant jigsaw puzzle," a Schofield Barracks transportation officer said.
FULL STORY »
Peter Pappalardo checked into work at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, and he doesn't plan to leave his office and the loading docks at Kilo pier until next week when the Navy completes what he describes as the "single biggest movement" in a decade.
"I'm in it for the long haul," Pappalardo told reporters yesterday as he orchestrated the loading of vehicles and equipment belonging to the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which will deploy to Iraq in November.
The last shipload of equipment is slated to leave Pearl Harbor on Monday.
As the Navy's marine cargo specialist at the Navy's Fleet Industrial Supply Center, Pappalardo is in charge of ensuring that 2,160 trucks, trailers, Humvees, vans and Stryker combat vehicles are safely on their way to the mainland.
It is a long voyage for the brigade, which will train at various locations in Southern California until October. Then all of the equipment will be loaded onto ships for the journey to Kuwait and Iraq.
All 310 of the brigade's 19-ton, eight-wheeled Stryker combat vehicles are included in the first shipload of equipment. They are among the nearly 1,000 vehicles that were driven aboard the 597-foot MV Jean Anne, which has been under contract with the U.S. Military Traffic Management Command since last year to transport vehicles between here and the West Coast.
Pappalardo said the loading was going so smoothly yesterday that the vessel, named after the wife of the founder of Pasha Transportation Lines, was expected to leave this morning for San Diego several hours ahead of schedule.
Its place at Pearl Harbor's Kilo pier will be replaced by the cargo vessel USNS Seay, which at 960 feet is almost twice as long as the Jean Anne and nearly as big as an aircraft carrier.
With the help of six civilian stevedores and 60 Navy reservists, Pappalardo hopes to load the remaining vehicles and send it on its way to San Diego by Monday.
Until then he and a few other Pearl Harbor dock workers will sleep in their offices.
"There will be no family time for the next week," he said.
Pappalardo said the last large movement of Schofield Barracks soldiers was in 2004 when two brigades from the 25th Division deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2nd Brigade -- which was not a Stryker unit at the time -- left first for Iraq in January 2004, followed by the 3rd Brigade bound for Afghanistan two months later.
This time, nearly 4,000 Schofield Barracks soldiers of the 2nd Brigade will begin leaving Wahiawa next week to train for nearly a month at what was once George Air Force Base in Southern California near Victorville. Then the unit and the Stryker combat vehicles will move to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin for its last big test and certification.
Lt. Col. David Davidson, deputy commander for the Stryker brigade, said the training at George Air Force Base is the first time the brigade will work together.
He said the abandoned buildings will help the brigade get a better feel of working in an urban setting.
"It will be a great opportunity to get into a large urban area," Davidson said, "which will replicate what we will see in Iraq."
Davidson declined to say where the 2nd Brigade will be assigned to in Iraq. Its sister unit -- the 3rd Brigade -- has been in the Al Anbar area in northern Iraq since September.
Pappalardo said it took about a month to figure out how all of the 2nd Brigade's vehicles could be stored on the four decks of the Jean Anne. The cargo bay, which has more than 1,030 square feet of storage area, resembles a parking garage.
The side of the Jean Anne is not painted battleship gray. Instead it is adorned with life-size paintings of the vehicles the ship was built to carry.