A Memorial Day Tribute to Truck Driversby Jana Ritter - Published: 5/23/2013
While Memorial Day is for remembering the fallen military heroes of our country, there are many truck drivers who have also given their lives and continue risking their lives every single day since the start of the Iraq war.
As of June 26, 2011, there have been 550 foreign private contractor deaths in Iraq as part of the Iraq war. Whether its driving tanker truckers, heavy flat beds, delivering supplies, laundry or daily mail, truck drivers in Iraq should be honored for their service as well. The US, Canadian, British and Iraqi truck drivers of all the countries serving in this war.
There are many truck drivers continuing to risk their lives and face the unknown possibilities of what could happen on the job each day. Truck driver Jerry, from Canada, recounts his experience as being aware of that danger immediate upon landing on the base the first day. Jerry says that the landing in Baghdad was very intense because of the tight airspace and rather than the sort of landing people are used to, it was a corkscrew landing which was unsettling. But he says the scariest moment in Iraq was actually the next moment, when he stepped off the plane and was surrounded by armed guards with weapons in a war zone. It was enough to convince some of the other guys to head back home almost immediately.
But Jerry is one of many brave truck drivers who forge on, without the military training to deal with the impact of their surroundings and danger constantly looming at every turn. He explains that he actually felt more danger while off duty and housing on the base. He explains that when they were on the base, they didn't wear any gear, but when he was driving he wore Kevlar and was inside an armored vehicle. The base would regularly be hit with incoming mortars at night and he regularly had rounds going off within 1000 feet of him. The base would also send off outgoing rounds at night, which happened to be very close to his housing area. But he also admits that driving his truck in a convoy meant being more prone to attack and while he was only fired upon twice, he said it was a lot less compared to what other convoys encountered.
Jerry spent his time stationed in Tallil, in the southern part of Iraq and was part of the flatbed division. As a truck driver, he hauled everything from building materials to dry goods to construction equipment. Anything that might be needed at a base and could fit on a flatbed, he hauled on his truck.
As far as driving a truck in Iraq, Jerry says truck driving is truck driving no matter where you are. Except in Iraq, the trucks he drove (which included Mercedes, Volvo, Freightliner and International), were armored specifically for war zone trucking jobs. He adds that while there was no speed limit or weight laws to obey, being a safe driver translates the same in Iraq as it does here – bettering your chances of survival.