The Guard in NOLA

I was happy tonight to see some brief news footage of a convoy of National Guard truckers hauling food and water on HEMTT 985s through the flooded streets of New Orleans. The CNN newsreader described them as “amphibious,” which I guess they are, but it’s really just that the engine sits up high behind the cab and has a vertical stack. I never got to drive one — my gig was M931 5-ton tractor-trailers and M1070 HETs, the big 70-ton-capacity heavy-haulers with 40 wheels in 5 rows of 8 on the trailer — but I always wanted to, mostly out of curiosity about having two steerable front axles instead of one, since the HEMTTs had a total of four axles and eight big, big wheels, with 350-pound tires. And they never got stuck, as you could probably tell from the news footage. But the nice thing about the HEMTT — pronounced “hemmit”; it stands for Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck — is that it’s got what they call (if memory serves) a palletized load system: there’s a little crane right in front of the cargo area, and the cargo area is actually a detachable flatbed with a hook on the front end. So the trucks can come in, use the crane to hook and drop the pallet with the load, and turn right around for another run. It’s a lot faster than waiting for a forklift to unload you, which is a good thing: those Guard truckers are gonna be busy folks.

Anyway. Seeing the footage brought back some 24th Infantry Division trucking memories, and made me hope that maybe things in NOLA are starting to improve. And it also gave me a little non-dissertational nostalgia and a sense of wishing I was doing that. At least after the end of a mission (if you weren’t busy munching on dry Taster’s Choice from MREs to try and stay awake) you could look and say, “I hauled that load, and helped some people.” Right now, the academic work feels rather less fulfilling, comparatively speaking — but I’m looking forward to next week, when the fall teaching semester starts.

5 thoughts on “The Guard in NOLA

  1. michelle

    People have been moving since this happened. I have students in the Guard who have been activated. We’re only one state north of it and the response has been substantial.

    Reply
  2. mike Post author

    Yeah. The 24th ID, in Savannah, deployed when Andrew slammed into south Florida. Of course, the 24th has since reflagged as the 3rd, and it’s kind of hard to lend any help from Iraq. And then there’s the problem that Georgia National Guard frequently borrowed our equipment for civil missions, and that equipment’s in Iraq, too. But that really doesn’t make much difference either, because the Georgia National Guard’s 48th BCT is in Iraq, as well.

    Reply
  3. Rob

    In our day wasn’t it referred to as a “HETT”? Did they drop a T or did I add one on? Man, driving those things to Benning kicked rear. Long drive, though. You have to respect a vehicle that has to get state approval before driving on the roads, can’t drive over bridges or under overpasses and is not permitted on the roads on Sundays or national holidays.

    Reply
  4. mike Post author

    They dropped a T with the new models. Did you ever get to drive one of those with the hydraulics on the trailer and the bogeys you could winch up, or were you out before then? I know you drove the old ones with the big ramps before I ever did, but I think the new ones might have been after your time.

    And yeah, that was something: 12 foot wide trailers in 10 foot wide highway lanes. I had Sunkist riding shotgun once and he cussed the whole day’s ride. Nice, quiet, mild Sunkist.

    Reply
  5. Rob

    Yeah, I got to drive the new ones only one time. It was not loaded, though. They actually talked about revoking my license due to the new dimensions of the cab. They thought you had to be at least 5’8″ to reach the pedals and look over the hood. How humiliating! They actually did take away driving privelages for one of the females. Can’t remember her name, though.

    You know Sunkist had a wild side to him…for god’s sake he was a race car driver back home. As if that was an occupation. HA! You know he used to drive his racecar to the track from his home. It had no plates, no insurance true possi traction (rear end welded together) and the front wheels where installed at an angle to allow for better driving on the circular track. Could you imagine doing that in DC…Or Mass? I can hear Primus now “Sunkist was a racecar driver”… You fill in the rest.

    Mud

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