Fort gets new tanks

Col. Norb Jocz, left, and Sgt. Maj. James Savitski pose with Chester the bulldog and a new tank Friday at Fort Riley.

? Millions of dollars worth of tanks rolled in to Fort Riley on Friday.

“It’s like Christmastime, that’s how we look at it. Getting this new equipment is just awesome,” said Col. Norb Jocz, commander of the 3rd Brigade.

Jocz and Sgt. Maj. James Savitski watched as trains carrying 58 Abrams tanks and 120 Bradley fighting vehicles pulled into the fort ahead of the troops who will use them.

The brigade is being deployed 11 months before its original timeline. Five-hundred-fifty 70th Engineer soldiers from the unit were just called to a mission in Afghanistan.

“You know you’re just swelled up with pride, you just look at this opportunity to develop to train your organization, and everyone’s pretty excited about it,” Jocz said.

Each piece of equipment is valued at between $3.5 million and $4.3 million.

“We’re building, simultaneously, people and equipment and marrying the two together,” Jocz said.

“The idea is as soon as the soldiers get to Fort Riley, the equipment’s here, they’re ready to go, and they can start training almost immediately,” Installation Transportation Officer Dick Wollenberg said.

“Pretty soon here, hopefully, you’ll be able to hear it – I call it rolling thunder. But it will actually be the 3rd Brigade doing hard training. You’ll hear the thunder of guns, of cannons and tanks in the near future; we’re looking forward to it,” Savitski said. “This is the part where soldiers become soldiers.”

Four more trains carrying equipment are coming from Charleston, N.C., in the next two weeks.

All told, 400 railcars will roll into Fort Riley for this mission alone.