Truckers in Iraq: Driving Across the War

Trucks and their drivers are found everywhere and they are accomplishing their work in every landscape and situation. The war is no exception. Actually the trucking work is an indispensable function during war times. So, the trucks were also included in the Iraq war plans.


The logic is simple. The war needs a background support to maintain the soldiers on the war. Water, food, medicine supplies, fuel, maintenance and mail are part of the issues to resolve.


Since the war in Iraq started, many plumbers, electricians, food workers, medicine and emergency specialist among others, have gone to Iraq to work with the troops. They are all civilians.


Supplies need to reach the soldiers' bases, so the transportation becomes an important procedure. Civilian truck drivers are working in Iraq together with the coalition army.


Companies specialized on logistic war like Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) an others from different countries have been recruiting workers from many different countries; these include Turkey, Bosnia, Lebanon, Bulgaria, England, South Africa, Honduras, the Philippines and also the United States.


But why drive a truck in such a dangerous environment? The payment for this work is the reason why people go to Iraq. For example, Kellogg Brown and Root can pay to a truck driver $125,000 per year as starting payment scale.  This tempting offer is darkened by the risks of the job.


Water and food are essentials for the army. The militias know it well too. Therefore, since the military operations started in Iraq, the logistic convoys have been attacked by ambushes, kidnaps and such. For this reason, the army has always protected the trucks, the precious freight and the driver with escorts.


The truck drivers must also use bullet proof vests and Kevlar helmets for protection. The truck is equipped with Qualcomm satellite system with phone and email for emergencies.  But this is not enough.


“We will kill anyone […] inside any truck carrying goods to the occupation forces,” said to Aljazeera a leader of the Ramadi militia in 2004. They kept their word.


The news has been reporting about the growing list of deaths among coalition soldiers and the civilian workers serving the army. But the real toll of civilian deaths is not complete. This is because although the army must inform about all their deaths, the private operators in Iraq are not forced to report their lost people.


Iraq Coalition Casualty Counts site picks up an incomplete but very useful list of civilian deaths in Iraq. They have 280 civilian who were working on different functions. 106 of them were Americans. In the case of the truckers, some were killed in convoy ambushed, by an explosion and others were kidnapped and then cruelly executed.     


This is a very dangerous job indeed. Even the truckers hauled approximately 4 million liters of water, 33 million of meals, and more than 1 million gallons of fuel to the troops the last 2004.


Perhaps the reality could not be described by hidden or shown numbers, but by the unique stories. Here are someone recollected by the news.


Albert Luther Cayton was working in Iraq since 2003, where he was doing a great job. He was promoted as a supervisor of the convoy. He had good credentials and was honored as a driver with 3 million miles free of accidents, and in 2002, he hauled many tons of steel from the ground zero zone of the World Trade Center. On February 2004, he died with three other truck drivers when he supervised a supplies convoy attacked by the militia. He left his wife and three children.


Tim Smith was from Aztec and was 40 years old. He was driving a truck for the KBR Company in an engineering and construction mission for the US Army in Iraq. He was a family guy. On the Halliburton statement, the details of his death were not beyond of the date: April 2004 while he was working.


Since April 2004, that very date, the family of Bill Bradley of Galveston has been suffering when he went missing. In January 2005, the distress finished at last. It was extremely sad news. The body of Bradley was found after six months; he died during an ambush to his convoy on April 9 2004. He wanted to see more of the world, so he went to Iraq; that was the description made by Halliburton statement.


Carrying the mail for the soldiers is also a dangerous work. Fred Bryant Jr. was 39 years old and he had three children in Florida. He was killed on August 2004 by an explosive on his truck while he was driving the mail truck.


Keven Dagit from Iowa died together with his partners while he was driving in a convoy of Halliburton Company in September 2005. He was 42 years old and had two daughters.


Finally, a young man of 21 years of age was killed when he was working in the mail transportation as an assistant driver. He had a dream to become a doctor some day. He was killed on August 2003 by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) on the attack to his convoy. He and his dream rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  His name was Darryl Dent.