Within the next couple weeks, thousands of Third Infantry soldiers will leave the Coastal Empire for Iraq. But much of their equipment is already on the way. WTOC talked with some of the soldiers who are traveling with the trucks, tanks and Humvees across the ocean.
This is a big reminder that the soldiers are about to leave, and each of them has a story about what they do and why they serve.
Port crews loaded the thousands of vehicles that will carry the Third Infantry around in Iraq. But only a handful of Marne Division soldiers will actually travel with it.
Among them, Spec. Nathan Potts, who was a high school teacher and football coach just 18 months ago. "I just wanted to make sure I did my part as an American and stood up for what I believed in and what this country is doing," he said.
As a medic, he now serves in the division he watched conquer Saddam and liberate Iraq. "It makes me proud to do what I'm doing and the role model I'm showing my children, who are back in Texas with my wife. They think it's great."
This may not be a slow boat to China, but it's close. While soldiers who fly to Kuwait can get there in 36 hours, these ships take three weeks to get to the other side of the world.
The soldiers who volunteered for the ride will spend nearly every waking minute with the equipment. "We make sure vehicles are strapped down tightly," explained Sgt. Rod Lobaugh. "We don't what them bumping around into each other. We also make sure none are leaking or anything like that."
Their goal is to have the 1,000 to 2,000 vehicles ready and waiting on the soldiers who'll use them.
To give you an idea of how much the Third Infantry takes along, seven ships have left port so far, each carrying nearly 2,000 vehicles. Division leaders say they're about three-fourths of the way finished.