Teams of North Carolina National Guard Soldiers from the 113th Sustainment Brigade (SB) and 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) prepared and loaded armored vehicles from Fort Bragg, June 1 for cross-country rail transport to Fort Irwin, California for the ABCT’s annual training deployment this summer.

This rail load is part of the third deployment of the nearly 4,200 Soldiers of the 30th ABCT since 2001 to Fort Irwin for the most current combat training available in the U.S. Army.

“It is a great feeling to be part of it, carrying all these vehicles,” said Spc. Derrick Eley, a truck driver assigned to the 1452nd Transportation Company, 113th SB.

The railyard was a hive of activity which included convoys of 48-wheeled heavy equipment transporter trucks from the 1452nd Trans. Co. Each 50-foot trailer behind the eight-wheeled trucks carried the 30th ABCT’s armored vehicles such as a Bradley fighting vehicle, an armored personnel carrier, a Hercules Recovery Vehicle, a specially designed vehicle capable of towing other armored vehicles and the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank.

“It is so much, so many vehicles; it is a lot of firepower,” said Spc. Abigail Uhrich, a Soldier assigned to the 113th Special Troops Battalion, 113th SB.

Once parked, drivers climbed aboard the armored vehicles and drove off the trailers. The drivers followed the hand signals of Soldiers guiding the multiple ton vehicles across the yard to the waiting train cars. Team leaders arranged each vehicle for loading on train cars as officers tracked the day’s progress.

The final loading on the rail car was a 70-ton pallet. Drivers concentrated on the Soldier standing at the end of the railcar who guided them with hand signals. Each vehicle was inspected by teams of Soldiers with rulers, checking to ensure proper placement on each car. “It is amazing,” Uhrich said.

The 30th ABCT will transport more than 400 tracked vehicles and approximately 1,000 wheeled vehicles for training at Fort Irwin’s National Training Center in preparation for deployment overseas later this fall.