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NEWS | Dec. 16, 2016

Transportation: First-In, Last-Out at Operation Toy Drop

By Staff Sgt. George Thurmond 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT BRAGG, N.C.--  It’s 0330 here at Fort Bragg, N.C. and as expected, there are Soldiers outside that have started their day. But on this dreary morning it’s not the mighty Airborne or Special Operations Soldiers that call Bragg home that are the first to greet the morning moonlight before it gives way to the sun, but a squad sized element of the 970th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control Team) an Army Reserve unit based in Eugene, Ore. Today’s mission is the same as it’s been since the unit arrived at Fort Bragg, provide support for Operation Toy Drop.

Established in 1998, by then Staff Sgt. Randy Oler, a United States Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) Soldier, Operation Toy Drop started as a training event and airborne operation.

Each year since, the event has drawn thousands of Soldiers with jumpmasters from eight nations conducting airborne operations this year. Along with training, Operation Toy Drop provides an opportunity for Fort Bragg Soldiers to donate toys to local children, having donated nearly 100,000 toys since its inception.

Although the paratroopers get most of the attention, it’s the supporting elements such as transportation that allows Operation Toy Drop to be successful.

“Today’s mission is to push jumpers from Luzon Drop Zone to MacKall Airfield to load helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts for jumping back at Luzon,” said Sgt. Robert Michael St. Peter, a Transportation Management Coordinator (88N) assigned to the 970th TC Det (MCT). He continued, “We’re essentially tracking all personnel, all vehicles, where they’re going, what they’re doing, where they’re at, and we have a live feed tracker we run for the command sergeant major.”

The ten Soldiers representing the 970th TC Det (MCT) this morning are all trained in the 88N military occupational specialty (MOS), and all used accountability when describing the importance of their role in at Operation Toy Drop.

“As an 88N we play a part in the accountability for these large scale operations. If there is something to know movement wise we’re able to sit beside the commanders and command sergeants major during these operations and be a level of accountability for all pieces of the movement. That includes vehicles, personnel, and food transportation,” said St. Peter.

The 970th TC Det (MCT) support wasn’t limited to only providing support during the airborne operations of Operation Toy Drop that started Dec. 8 and is scheduled to run through Dec. 16, as the unit worked with motor transport operators (88M) to process and load cargo to assist in the lead up to Operation Toy Drop arriving at Fort Bragg November 30.

With the major roll transportation played in Operation Toy Drop it would be easy to assume the 970th TC Det (MCT) is an active duty unit, but their support of Operation Toy Drop is the unit’s annual training (AT) mission as the unit is a Reserve unit and the Soldiers relish the training opportunity.

The Army Reserve is an institution of expert specialists needed by our active Army and the Nation’s total military force, representing most of the Army’s medical, logistical, engineering, civil affairs, psychological operations, legal, chemical, and transportation capabilities.

“This was my first experience assisting paratroopers in a logistical sense,” said Sgt. Michale Clouser, an 88N and former infantryman (11B). He continued, “I know this is a unique experience for some of the younger Soldiers in the unit, so it’s been a pretty fun mission. We’ve been very active, long hours, but a good time.”
St. Peter added, “USACAPOC (A) gave us a lot of freedom to customize our training. We were able to get with the 88M’s and build an entire process of movement from start to finish.” 

“As a Reserve unit we don’t get an opportunity to move a large amount of personnel, a large amount of cargo. This mission was an opportunity for the newer Soldiers to get their feet wet in a real-time situation. We all were able to process movement request, process cargo, process personnel, and run through tracking systems,” said St. Peter.