Track Homecoming Soldiers' Flights Online - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/05/06

Track Homecoming Soldiers' Flights Online

Throughout this month and next, we can look forward to thousands more Third Infantry troops marching home. Their families want to be there of course, but often notice comes very late, no earlier than a couple days ahead of time. And arrival times can and do change up to the last minute.

For families anxiously awaiting their soldiers Wednesday at Cottrell Field on Fort Stewart, the arrival couldn't come soon enough. In fact, this one came and went well ahead of schedule. Anyone showing up near the originally scheduled time of 1pm would have missed it completely.

That's what keeps the phones ringing at the Third ID's redeployment media center, as calls come in by the thousands for the latest changes. The base is hoping families will also take advantage of its new, online Flight Tracker system.

"It really greatly reduces the phone congestion," explained civilian developer Michael Brown with Ciber, Inc. "You know, a lot of people can't get through due to the high number of calls coming in."

You wouldn't want to miss your soldier at the last minute, but this being the Army, things can change. That's why they've implemented this new way to keep track of the latest information.

"This is as real time as it gets," said Brown. "I would say as soon as the emergency operations center gets the notification of the flight, or any change in that flight, it's immediately posted to the web. Calling the redeployment media center will not get you the information any faster than going to the website."

And they say it's just about as easy. "I would say the most important feature is simplicity," Brown told us. "You know, we realize that the web is still complex to a lot of people. So we want to make it very simple, very easy to use."

Making sure you won't miss a very important appointment.

If you'd like to check out the Flight Tracker online, visit:

http://www.stewart.army.mil/rmt/default.aspx?tabid=369

And we just got word from the developers the system will have a new feature up and running soon. You'll be able to enter your mobile phone number and it will send any updates to your phone as a text message.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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