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Army Reserve Drill Turns into the Real Thing

(Lincoln, Neb.) - (Nov. 8, 1997) - Members of an Omaha-area U.S. Army Reserve unit were planning to drill this weekend just like they do once a month. But instead of the routine activities they're used to, the 172nd Truck Company will be taking to the streets. Their mission - clearing thousands of downed tree limbs from the streets of Omaha.

The 40 men and women of the truck company, part of the 561st Support Group, will be using 10 tractor-trailer trucks to haul debris from residential and commercial areas south of Leavenworth Street to a chipping operation near Rosenblatt Stadium. The Truck Company is experienced at hauling everything from food and clothing to unusually-sized items. But this is believed to be the first time that their cargo has been storm-ravaged trees.

Although the unit is part of the U.S. military, it is not being activated as part of the other federal disaster resources triggered by President Clinton's recent major disaster declaration for 38 Nebraska counties.

Instead, Army Reserve sources say the cleanup project was the idea of Mayor Hal Daub and is being coordinated with Omaha Public Works Department storm cleanup activities. The Reserve unit does a community service project once a year anyway and to have a local need at the same time there was a routine drill seemed to be a perfect fit for everyone concerned. Also, this kind of activity provides the perfect opportunity for Reservists to utilize the skills they'd routinely use as part of their normal military duties.

Updated: November 10, 1997