Soldiers compete for bragging rights at annual Truck Rodeo in South Korea
CAMP MOBILE, South Korea — Parallel parking a Hyundai in Seoul’s congested streets without ramming anyone is tough enough.
On Thursday, 28 soldiers each had to park a 10-wheeler within 12 inches of a cone behind them — without being able to see the cone.
It was one of 13 events with three different vehicles during the three-day 302nd Brigade Support Battalion annual Truck Rodeo at Camp Mobile in Dongducheon.
Of the 28 competitors, 22 came from the 302nd and six came from the 46th Transportation Company at Camp Stanley.
One event allows drivers about a foot of space between their 10-wheel trucks and the cones, which will help hone skills as much for a congested South Korean boulevard as it will for an ancient Baghdad alleyway.
“It’s actually more of an illusion,” said 2nd Lt. Young Choi of Cerritos, Calif., as a truck cruised down the lane. “As they keep going, the driver thinks the lane gets narrower.”
Each soldier competed individually but also teamed up for events like mounting a .50-caliber weapon onto a Humvee, said Sgt. 1st Class James Mills of Roanoke Rapids, N.C.
They also teamed up to roll a tire to the 10-wheel Palletized Loading System vehicle, then change a different tire manually and roll the old tire back.
The tire itself weighs about 120 pounds — when inflated and mounted on a rim, about 350 pounds.
It was the most physically challenging timed event, said Sgt. Mark Duffield of Telequah, Okla.
Recovering a Humvee with a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle while under evaluation was more mentally challenging, said Duffield, who deployed to Mosul in 2003 and Baghdad in 2005 as a driver with the 101st Airborne Division.
The serpentine slalom event will help soldiers if they have to drive trucks into downrange bases with tricky security configurations, Duffield said.
“Any time you get more miles, the more experienced you’re going to be,” Duffield said.