• 88u Military Rail Operations Crewmember question.

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by ineedaraise
Im currently a conductor for a short line in ga that is really Really slow right now due to the recession, so im trying to do what ever i can to survive. Hve a couple of questions for you if anyone can answer...... Just wondering if anyone has heard of the 88u train ops crewmember for the Army Reserves and if so what all it details? The Armys website does not say much about the job. Is there a active duty job with the army dealing with railroads? Can the railroad im with fire me if I decide to go into the reserves? I just got back from our Army recruiters office and he didnt know his @$$ from a hole in the ground, so hopefully someone here can help. Thanks Again
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  by CJPat
They discontinued the rail MOS's for active duty a number of years ago and are almost done phasing them out of the Reserves. The US Gov't uses private contractors for that stuff now. It would take the outbreak of WWIII before the military gets back into it.

See this thread http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=111&t=62680.
  by RailVet
Railway MOSs were deleted from the active Army in May 1976 and the last active duty rail unit, the 1st Railway Detachment at Fort Eustis, VA, was inactivated on Sep 30, 1978. Since then rail MOSs have only existed in the Reserve, and they have continued to shrink over the years. Last fall the remaining rail companies were consolidated under the 757th Trans Bn (Ry), which is now scheduled to be inactivated by 2015. At least one of its subordinate companies is already in the process of being phased out for inactivation in 2010. The others will follow before phasing out the HQ in 2015.

The cost of driving from GA to one of the remaining (for now) rail units would negate any extra cash you might make by attending drill weekends, to say nothing to the unreliable nature of getting paid in a timely manner (if at all) by USAR.

Join now and your time in a rail slot will be limited. Reclassification into something else is inevitable, and you may not care for it at all. You may also be sent on extended trips to some hot, unpleasant places and have nothing to do with rail operations, so bear that in mind.

I never heard of a railroad firing anyone for being in the Reserve (doing so openly may be illegal), but if an employer really wants to dump you, he'll find a way to do so.

The Rail MOS career field is so limited that it's unlikely a recruiter could tell you much, if anything, about it. Most would probably be surprised to learn it actually exists.
  by kevin.brackney
..and unless you are willing to commute from wherever you live, to Milwaukee, Chicago, or Granite City, IL, you may not like it. But from someone who has done it, it was worth it. It's true; I wish I had a dollar from every soldier that said, "I didn't know the Army had trains." I even heard that once from a Transportation Corps officer! Probably only the recruiter that serves the 757th or one of its subordinate companies would know any details. And you could end up in a place that gets very cold (AFG) as well as very hot. I would still do it. But that's just me.
  by RailVet
Anyone considering joining USAR to be part of the last remaining rail battalion (which won't last much longer) needs to keep in mind that a rail unit isn't the same as a railroad company. As you will repeatedly hear (after joining a unit), you are a soldier first and a [whatever] second. A lesson the Army periodically re-learns every decade or two is that its reserve components (both USAR and the ARNG) often don't do much useful training, so when they're mobilized and actually sent overseas, they are ill-prepared for combat zones. This has led the Army to focus on recruiting people from the civilian workforce who already have the skills it seeks (e.g., they are, in effect, already MOS-qualified) and focus instead on combat skills during the limited amount of weekend and annual training that takes place.

Note that, even though you would be in a rail unit, drill weekends and annual training will not consist entirely of rail activities. In fact, it's quite common that there wouldn't be any for months at a time, if ever. One former commander in the 757th, whose background was in the infantry, was (in)famous for saying, "Railroading isn't rocket science. We're going to train as infantry!" As so they did, and people left the unit in droves, at one point reaching 39% manning.

Also keep in mind that those with experience and interest in rail may not be in positions of authority in the unit. A few years ago one former NCO in the 757th from the 1970s was dismayed, when visiting the battalion HQ in Milwaukee, to find that not a single officer had a Transportation Corps (much less rail) background. All were from other branches who were merely earning retirement points until something better opened up elsewhere.

It has also been very common for decades for reserve component units to do absolutely nothing useful on weekends except sit around. One veteran of the 729th Trans Bn (Railway) (inactivated in 1976 and predecessor of the later 1205th) remarked that they did absolutely nothing on weekends but play card games. This was by no means limited to just this unit. Unless there is someone in the unit who actively works on conducting a worthwhile training program AND there is a location where this training can take place, you will be sorely disappointed by what you encounter. Being paid for doing absolutely nothing works just fine for many, if not most, and has been described as "welfare in uniform."

Moral of the story: If you want to be a railroader, seek employment with a railroad company. You are not going to find what you seek in a USAR unit.
  by kevin.brackney
There is definitely alot of truth in the above comments. As a matter of fact, I was in THAT formation when the Co. commander made that infamous quote about rocket science. As I remember it though; people left as a result of that commander's continued leadership style. I was one that remained and things got better after that commander left. There's a funny story here by the way: This commander volunteered to go on a deployment to the Balkans; and I don't know how much truth there is to it, but I heard that this individual was despised to the extent that someone in the staff, or more than one person, concocted a more or less bogus mission for him, just to get him out of their area. I never heard from him again after that.

Commanders are usually in the saddle for about two years and then they move on. NCOs set the tone and the climate for their units. On the other side of the equation I have seen a balance between technical MOS training and warrior tasks. When I was at the "new" 226 at Westover Air Reserve Base we did a large amount of rail operations training at the Pioneer Valley Railroad at Westfield, MA. One year I performed seven weeks of active duty; and it consisted entirely of rail operations, from Ft. Hood, TX, to Ft. Carson, CO, and the Military Ocean Terminal, at Concord, CA (MOTCO).

Unfortunately, the Army is going to be cutting back across the board to help reduce the national debt. I'm surprised that the 757th held out this long; not that it should go away. On the contrary, the 757th is just as relevant today, as it was in the Second World War. There is a U.S. military unit in Afghanistan that specializes in agriculture. What? I didn't know the Army had farmers! How come that operation didn't get contracted out like the rebuilding of the Iraqi Railroad did?

Because of the OPTEMPO in recent years, the Reserve and the National Guard has changed dramatically since 9-11. I have seen a significant amount of card playing, video watching and soldiers "ghosting" during drill, but these same Reservists and Guardsmen have now been on at least one deployment to a combat zone; many on their second, or third. My Guard unit just replaced an infantry unit of the Regular Army; and this is not an uncommon occurance. I bet my unit is just as good as the one we replaced.

I still consider myself in the fight: Although it may be too late, I will talk to anyone about keeping the 757th alive whenever I get the chance. Wish me luck.
  by RailVet
Unfortunately USAR rail training on the Pioneer Valley Railroad is now just a memory. The two GP10s were owned by the 1205th TROB and, following its inactivation in Sep 06, they were acquired by the Tennessee Valley Authority. In fact, they were repainted with TVA on the sides before they left town. The 226th (or what's left of it) is still at Westover ARB but the geeps are gone, and reportedly there's about one operating crew left in the unit.
  by kevin.brackney
The 1151st TC Co. (Railway Operating) on Army Knowledge Online (AKO) homepage lists a detachment at Blue Grass Army Depot, KY and another one at Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point, NC.
  by RailVet
My latest listing for the 757th, its subordinate units, and authorized strength is below:

HQ 757th Transportation Battalion (Railway) WSY7AA
Milwaukee USARC
4850 West Silver Spring Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53218-3400
10 officers, 1 WO, 42 EM

226th Transportation Company (Railway Operating) WQ42AA
Chicopee AFRC
700 Eagle Drive
Box 24
Westover ARB, MA 10122-2010
5 officers, 117 EM

1150th Transportation Company (Railway Operating) WQ5FAA
Phillip H. Sheridan USARC
3155 Blackhawk Drive
Fort Sheridan, IL 60037-1289
5 officers, 117 EM

Det 1 WQ5FA2
Granite City USARC
Building 331
1230 First Street
Granite City, IL 62040-1801

1151st Transportation Company (Railway Operating) WQ5GAA
3623 Carolina Beach Road
Wilmington, NC 28412
(Effective mid-Sep 2011)
3 officers, 43 EM
(Formerly located at:
Adrian B. Rhodes AFRC
2144 Lake Shore Drive
Wilmington, NC 28401-7297)

Det 1 WQ5GA2
Blue Grass Army Depot USARC
2091 Kingston Highway
Richmond, KY 40475-5001
1 officer, 43 EM

Det 2 WQ5GA3
Southport, NC 28461-7800
1 officer, 34 EM

1152nd Transportation Company (Railway Operating) WQ5HAA
Milwaukee USARC
4850 West Silver Spring Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53218-3400
4 officers, 73 EM

Det 1 WQ5HA2
Fort McCoy Complex
2010 South 8th Street
Fort McCoy, WI 54656-5136

Notes: Det 2, 1151st at MOTSU is officially a Det but always drills in Wilmington now with the rest of the company in Wilmington. MOTSU is reportedly not used for anything but vehicle driver training now and the Det no longer has an office presence there.

Also, the 226th exists for the most part on paper with just one functional rail crew. Most personnel have been cross-leveled to the 88N MOS. At last report, the 1151st is going through the same transformation. Most soldiers are being required to take the 88N course and then stand by for reassignment to another unit before its final demise. It's anticipated that most will be absorbed by a former truck unit in Wilmington that is being reconfigured as a port operations outfit with 88Ns and 88Hs.
  by kevin.brackney
It's infuriating, frustrating and sad, all rolled into one. It would still be better than what I was doing prior to my current situation. Heck, I'm doing 88N work right now!
  by RailVet
I'm told that, even though we're nearing the end of the last rail unit, there are still Transportation Theater Opening Element (TTOE) units that will have 88U slots as advisors,typically for re-establishing rail operations in a country the US has invaded and occupied. The kind of people the Army would want in these positions are those who already have significant civilian rail experience in order to be qualified to act as advisors. (Note: This is advising, not actually operating.)

What does a TTOE do? Here's what FM 55-50 says: "The TTOE deploys early into the theater of operation to provide staff augmentation for planning reach-back capability, network visibility, joint reception, staging, onward movement (RSO) operations including life support, force protection, and theater sustainment operations. The TTOE becomes fully integrated into the staff of the headquarters to which attached to provide the commander with technical staff expertise for the planning and employment of transportation organizations engaged in theater and port opening operations. The TTOE is normally assigned to a theater sustainment command (TSC), attached to the sustainment brigade designated to conduct theater and port opening operations."

Rail, however, will play only a very small part in overall operations, and if you wish to get ahead, you'll need to gain experience with other forms of transportation as well.
  by kevin.brackney
That's better than nothing. You seem to be better connected than I am; any idea if there is such a unit currently in-theater?