Friday, January 8, 1999

25th Infantry on the Move

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Military gear is wrapped for shipment.


Helicopters specially wrapped for
transport to Louisiana looked surreal
in the fading light at Ford Island.
Or was it on the moon?

By Gregg K. Kakesako


The Army will send 3,800 Schofield Barracks soldiers to Louisiana for training at the end of January in the largest single deployment since the one for Haiti in 1995.

The movement of the 25th Infantry Division's (Light) 3rd Brigade's trailers, vehicles, aircraft and containers from Hawaii to Beaumont, Texas, will be on the Navy's newest and largest roll-on, roll-off transport ship, the USNS Sisler, now berthed at Ford Island.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Personnel gather inside the loading entrance
of the transport ship.

Convoys of equipment moved from Wahiawa yesterday to Ford Island with the loading ending late yesterday.

"The division is sending 42 aircraft, 29 containers and 771 pieces of rolling stock (vehicles and trailers)," said Maj. Fred Higgins, the division's transportation officer.

Once offloaded from the 951-foot Sisler in Texas, the equipment will move by rail or truck convoy to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk in Louisiana.

Schofield Barracks soldiers will leave Oahu on Jan. 20 and return Feb. 23.

The bulk of the training will be held Feb. 6-18.

In January 1995, more 3,800 soldiers -- elements of the 2nd and 3rd Brigade -- were sent to Haiti to participate for three months in the United Nations' peacekeeping operations in Operation Uphold Democracy.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Second Mate Ralph Ortolano, Jr. talks on his
radio about the mooring ship as he overlooks
some of the military vehicles that are secured
on the USNS Sisler.

Members of the 2nd Brigade provided security for President Aristide, the National Palace and other locations in Port au Prince, while the 3rd Brigade was stationed in the northern portion of the island at Cap Haiten.

The lessons learned in fulfilling peacekeeping missions in Haiti, Somalia and Bosnia will make up the bulk of the 25th Division's training at Fort Polk.

Before the Haitian deployment, the Tropic Lightning's largest movement was in 1967 when the 25th moved 4,000 soldiers and 9,000 tons of equipment from Schofield to South Vietnam in Operation Blue Light.

The Sisler was christened in Feb. 28, 1998 and is named for Army 1st Lt. George Sisler, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously in Vietnam after he prevented his platoon from being overrun by a force three times larger than his own.

The Hawaii Army National Guard also will be sending elements of its combat unit -- more than 1,500 soldiers of the 29th Infantry Brigade -- to Fort Polk between June 2-27 for similar training.

More than 11,000 soldiers belong to the 25th Division, which has two brigades at Schofield and one at Fort Lewis, Wash.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
This mysterious hand actually belongs to someone inside
the craft who operates the helicopter brakes. Since the operator
cannot see anything, he listens for the command to stop and can
only wave to the people who are pushing on the outside.

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