Army Major George Nix pulled three tours as a maintainer and logistician in Iraq, stretching from the invasion itself into 2009.
It seemed like we stayed in Kuwait forever. I think it was approximately two weeks. It turned into a big, sandy blur. Everything was a very, “hurry up and wait” mentality. We were basically on order to be prepared to move at any given moment.
When we finally were told to line up and move, we stayed in position for about a day and a half before we actually moved north. Moving north was real painful when we did it; for the first day, it took about 20 hours to 100 miles.
We had a lot of vehicle breakdowns. The second day was a little bit better, most of the stuff, the easy breaks that we had were fixed. The second day we moved a little bit better, but we were going through Baghdad. Again, we were having breakdowns, but our convoy was so excessively long — we had the entire forward support company in our convoy, so it was about 100 vehicles.
At nighttime it became real problematic because the Soldiers had been up all day, from say as early as 0500 and we were still travelling at 2100 and 2200.
It seemed that if we ever had a problem where we had to stop the convoy, Soldiers would start falling asleep in the trucks. As the convoy would move out, it would leave half the convoy behind; the sleepers would wake up and tear off in a panic, oftentimes missing a turn.
We weren’t moving very well that second day.
By then, I’d started coming up with a plan of how to manage my slice of the convoy. They had the platoon leaders split up and the whole thing, but I was able to try to help reduce the breaks in contact like that…
If we were stopped — again, it was in the middle of the night, anywhere from 2200 to 0100 — people would have to get out of their trucks, and they’re supposed to provide security. I made sure that we had non-commissioned officers evenly interspersed, and I couldn’t walk the entire line, but I could walk back two, three or four trucks and keep in contact with my vehicle.
If something happened, I could make sure the guy behind me was awake before we would start to pull off. He would make sure the guy behind him was awake before he pulled off. It would be a slow-moving, slinky effect, but that way we weren’t having breaks in contact. At that time too, we weren’t having issues with any kind of resistance, so we were very fortunate…
We weren’t the only ones to have a problem like that. Troops driving down the battlefield all day and all night, you stop and they would pass out. We were waiting to get into [Forward Operating Base] Warhorse and a Bradley column was ahead of us, and we noticed that there was just one Bradley ahead of us and all the others had moved out.
The Soldiers inside had gone to sleep, and we couldn’t wake them up because they couldn’t hear us banging through the armor on the truck.