Whether you're considering a career in truck driving, currently in truck driving school, or you're out on the road, you're probably wondering where your truck driving job will take you. Maybe the United States, Canada, Mexico…or Iraq.
In this blog post, we welcome back our guest video blogger Jerry Ott, who you'll remember is also known as "Bullfrog" to his friends and peers. A couple weeks ago, Jerry gave us some background on his career as a truck driver in Canada. He regularly posts videos for truck drivers on his YouTube channel called Big Rig Talk. Last time, Jerry told us how he got into the truck driving industry as an entry level driver, and more about his current job. In this video post, Jerry begins to tell us about his unique experience as a truck driver in Iraq, starting with how he got the opportunity, and what it was like to be in Iraq as a civilian truck driver.
Watch the video to find out what Jerry had to say about the experience:
Here's a video from Jerry's truck of his point of view in a convoy in Iraq:
Jerry was in Iraq from October 2007 to May 2009. He found out about the opportunity driving a truck for a company in Iraq through a friend and applied online. He was accepted to drive a truck, but had to delay his departure for a while due to medical issues since some facilities weren't available in Iraq. In October, he left his home city in Canada and flew to Houston, Texas for a week of training. All of his expenses, from the flights to the meals for training, were paid for by the company he was hired by. In Houston, Jerry and the other truck drivers hired were given basic training and policy instructions, including biochemical training. Next, they flew to the middle East. Jerry flew from Houston to London, then to Dubai. He spent a few more days in Dubai doing additional orientation and training before being sent to Baghdad International Airport.
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Jerry says that the landing in Baghdad was very intense because of the tight airspace. Rather than the sort of landing people in the US are used to, this was a corkscrew landing which was unsettling. Jerry says the scariest moment in Iraq was actually the moment he stepped off the plane. He was surrounded by armed guards with weapons in a war zone. He even noted some of the guys left for home almost immediately.
Jerry did more training for his trucking job in Annaconda before being sent to his permanent home base in Tallil, in the southern part of Iraq. From there, he was part of the flatbed division. As a truck driver, he hauled everything from building materials to dry goods to construction equipment. Anything that might be needed at a base and could fit on a flatbed, he hauled on his truck.
As a truck driver in his area, Jerry said he did feel safe most of the time, though he felt most safe outside the base on a convoy than on the base. When they were on the base, they didn't wear any gear, while when he was driving he wore kevlar and was inside an armored vehicle. While driving his truck in a convoy, Jerry said he was only fired upon twice, and both times were by small arms fire which wasn't a big deal compared to what other convoys encountered.
Perhaps the most unsettling part of his truck driving job in Iraq wasn't his time behind the wheel, but in his housing on the base. The base would regularly be hit with incoming mortars at night. Jerry regularly had rounds going off within 1000 feet of him. The base would also send off outgoing rounds at night which happened to be very close to his housing area. In the video above, he shows an example of what this experience was like.
While he was in a war zone with regular heavy fire, Jerry does note that what we see in the United States and Canada isn't always very accurate. From his experience, he felt the media only reported the negative or twisted facts. On the contrary, while it is a very rough place to be, he saw a continual improvement in the conditions, especially with how fertile the land is becoming after regime change allowed waterways to open up.
As far as driving a truck in Iraq, Jerry says truck driving is truck driving no matter where you are. In Iraq, the trucks he drove included Mercedes, Volvo, Freightliner, and International. They were armored especially for these types of trucking jobs. However, there were some things about the truck driving experience in Iraq that were quite different. There was no speed limit to obey. There were also no weight laws enforced. Any rules that the truck drivers had were mostly self-imposed. However, being a safe driver translates to being a safe driver in Iraq.
Jerry is a great example of where an entry-level truck driving job can take you if you put in your time on the road and keep a safe, positive attitude as a truck driver. If you commit to a career in truck driving, there's no limit to the travel, benefits, and joy your job can give you.
Come back soon to learn more about Jerry's trucker lifestyle in Iraq, including where he lived and worked. If you have any questions, leave a comment and he'll answer in a future video.