European Stars And Stripes Newspaper Archives Dec 26 1999, Page 3

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European Stars and Stripes (Newspaper) - December 26, 1999, Darmstadt, Hesse Saturday sunday december 25-26, 1999 a stars and stripes pads 3mail a carriers life on the Road mail prom Page 2 been Here a Baker said. A to never despite the fast roads the Drivers cannot surpass 80 Kilometres per hour which is the european limit for tractor trailers. If anyone does Brown amp Root will know about it. A device is installed in each truck to record the speeds and number of stops. Soon Brown amp Root Hopes to add a global positioning system that will give the Kaposvari Headquarters a continuous picture of the location of its trucks. For now Drivers keep in touch via radio and cell phones. The Drivers Call in every time they Start and end their trips and every time they Cross a Border. In Exchange they Are told about Road conditions ahead and any known Border problems. The first time Brown amp Root made this trip four trucks in a Convoy were stopped at the romanian Border for four Days. No one had foreseen the magnitude of the paperwork requirements and no one was working at the romanian ministry of defense on the weekend who could help. The Drivers ate meals ready to eat and a took Baths in the parking lot with bottles of water a Oliver recalled. On this 17-hour leg Drivers Baker and Frazier stopped once for Gas and twice for bathroom Breaks. They ate from a cooler of food or from the stash of res kept in the trucks. Frazier 52, retired from a 22-year career in army transportation and main photos by Elmore stars and stripes Drivers often have a few hours of overlap while resting and waiting for the trucks still in route to reach them for their next shifts. Here at a restaurant in Romania Are from left Drivers Thomas Baker Johnny Galvan and Kenneth Loggin. Tenancy and spent another six years with the army National guard. Baker 40, spent nine years with the army and five with the army National guard. He finished As an infantry sergeant before becoming a commercial trucker. Neither envisioned this kind of a life but the Money was too Good to refuse. Theirs is a Standard truckers salary set by Brown amp Root Headquarters in Houston. But because they work 84 hours a week it is doubled. And because they work overseas the first $74,000 a year is tax free. The Drivers wont say How much they make total. They receive per diem to pay for their expenses on the Road and a housing allowance to rent an apartment. In Hungary their laundry is done by Brown amp Root. And As army contractors they receive id cards entitling them to military shopping banking and mail privileges. After three months on the Road Drivers get a week off. At six months they get a two week break. After nine months they get another week off. And after a year they get three weeks of vacation. Brown amp Root pays the Cost of a round trip ticket Back to the United states twice a year. For the one week Breaks Brown amp Root pays the Cost of a plane ticket As far As London Frazer said. The Drivers have to be careful not to return to the United states every Quarter or they will not have enough time overseas to retain their overseas tax exemption. Many of the Drivers said they Are paying off debts and saving for a new life. One wants to buy his own Rig in Texas. Another plans to invest in real estate. A few others Are buying toys they could never afford before like Harley Davidson motorcycles. A a it a a hard life because of leaving the family in the United states a said Baker who has a wife in Killeen Texas. A i ask my wife to come Over and she says a do you know what you re asking me id come Over there and you a never be a Clearing the Borders the army has secured diplomatic agreements with each country Brown amp Root drives through enabling its Drivers to pass other vehicles waiting in line at the Borders. Although it cuts the waiting time it angers other truckers. Baker said that once at the Border of Romania and Bulgaria angry truckers yelled at him put rocks under his wheels and tried to unhook his trailer. Finally police were called and they verified that the . Army plated truck had the right to pass. Sometimes their taillights or reflectors Are stolen. A we never know who took it because there a a lot of trucks Back there a Frazier said. A in those poor countries they just take what they its often easier to Cross Borders on weekends because Many Small trucking companies cannot afford the extra tariffs needed to Cross then. They simply wait by the Side of the Road until monday. If the Drivers have a breakdown or Accident there Are standby teams of Drivers at Camp Able sentry Macedonia Tula Bosnia and at Kaposvari Hungary who pick up the mail trailer and continue the trip. And so the trip continues. Not Long after the smokestacks and office buildings of Vienna Austria Dis appear the Drivers Cross into Hungary. A we have our own Little private Border a said Frazer the transportation supervisor. Sure enough the Rig leaves the autobahn and turns into a decrepit vacant Border crossing kept open solely for military vehicles. Crossing takes minutes. The truck reaches Kaposvari on a tuesday evening 17 hours after the journeys Start. Baker and Frazier hand off to new Drivers and begin a Welcome 24 hours off. On the Road again on wednesday evening Baker and Frazier sign paperwork accepting a new trailer. They Load their Luggage res and coolers full of food and water that Brown amp Root provides. Of All the countries the mail goes through Romania requires the most information including the names of every Driver passing through on each Date with the exact tractor and trailer numbers a and they want it a week in Advance. The army posts a Mjor at the . Embassy in Bucharest specifically to help the mail get through. The romanian ministry of defense also posts a Man at the Border to help Deal with any nato military vehicles. Brown amp roots most enduring problem is overseeing the schedule of Drivers and trucks. Its a never ending a chess game a Sagehorn said. A you can imagine what happens when there san Thomas Baker washes Down a trucks Windshield and Side windows before starting his shift. Drivers Check their trucks brakes tires lights and other gear before accepting them from the last Driver. Bulgarian Border guards and customs agents always demanded to look into the trailers which Are sealed and locked by military agents of the . Postal service. Not even the Drivers Are allowed to open them. A a couple of times they just had to open it to get through Sagehorn said. But now the customs agents leave the trailers alone having become accustomed to the routine. The mail run through Hungary and Accident or a breakdown. It throws off into Romania lasts All night. A Candle the whole sequence and you be got to burned in a hungarian toil Booth. To put your Heads together and play a Manian boys knocked on the trucks whole new game of in the beginning the romanian and see mail on Page 4

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