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My Specialty: Truck Driver

A road warrior in Louisiana on the demands of being behind the wheel

After three deployments overseas, Staff Sergeant Jennifer Lyles, a member of Louisiana’s 1086th Transportation Company and attached to the 165th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, knows how to handle herself behind the wheel. Despite the long hours, she gets fulfillment knowing her job helps comrades accomplish theirs. Here are a few of her reflections on her job. 

The tours: "I returned this year from a deployment in Afghanistan and have had tours of duty in Iraq in 2010 and Kuwait/Iraq in 2003. Being a truck driver in places like these is an experience. You learn your endurance."

Her responsibility: "[It’s] not an easy job. We have long hours on the road, and a lot of people are depending on us to deliver medical supplies, ammunition, food, water and more."

The marathon: "There are times that we drive for four to ten hours, other times longer. On one of the missions I was on, we drove for twenty-six hours."

On getting ready: "You deal with exhaustion depending on how long you drive. Preparing for the trip, I know most drivers always have a pack with food, energy drinks or other types of drink, but all trucks are equipped with MREs and water."

Camaraderie: "In this line of work, you learn what teamwork really means. It is very fulfilling, knowing that I am part of a team that helps ensure equipment and supplies are getting to people or companies that depend on it."

Conversation: "To pass the time while we are driving, we talk about things that are going on at home or joke about things that people have done and discuss what is going on in the world. We’re always snacking on something to keep us awake."

What others say: "People’s reactions to me being a truck driver are funny. When I tell people what I do in the military, they just look at me and say, 'You’re so little; how can you see over the steering wheel?' "

Unforgettable moment: "I was on a mission hauling supplies to different FOBs. On the return back to Bagram [Air Field], we stopped at a little COB to recover damaged equipment. After resuming the mission to Bagram, approximately five miles up the road, our convoy got hit. There was an explosion beside my truck and another one two trucks behind me. I thought it was an IED, but it turned out to be an RPG. I wasn’t scared; I just kicked into survivor mode and did what I had to do to make it through."

Want to know more about being a motor transportation specialist (88M)? Check out the video below: