Wanted: Drivers for high-dollar jobs in Iraq

Published August, 29 2005

KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, is coming to the 2005 Great American Trucking Show to recruit drivers to haul cargo in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The show is being held in the Dallas Convention Center August 25-27.

“We are not a trucking company. We need drivers in support of the military in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait,” said Melissa Norcross, a public relations supervisor for KBR’s government and infrastructure division.

Drivers sign up for one year of service but can come home whenever they want, if conditions in the war-torn areas get too rough for them, Norcross said. KBR will pay the driver’s flight over and the return trip, regardless of when the driver decides to head home, she said.

Pay is usually between two and three times what the drivers make in the states, Norcross said. Drivers work 12-hour shifts seven days a week and get tax-free hourly straight time, overtime and hazard pay because they are working in a war zone. “All convoys are escorted by the Army,” Norcross said.

The job is also very dangerous. Sixty-eight Halliburton employees have been killed since the company began sending people over. Twenty of those killed were truck drivers.

“Our recruiters try to talk people out of going over there,” Norcross said. “They need to know up front what they are getting into. We don’t want anyone to go over and feel like they don’t know what they are getting into.”

The drivers will haul anything the military needs, from medical supplies to heavy equipment, Norcross said. “What they tell us to haul, we haul. We do everything at their direction.”

Living conditions are varied, but most likely any drivers signing on would live in a tent with eight to 20 people, Norcross said.

As reported by Truckers News in a July 2004 cover story, some American truckers in Iraq, working for various contractors, earn tax-free annual salaries as large as $120,000. Many have complained of unexpected dangers and hardships, including 40-year-old trucks that lack sufficient armor.

Thomas Hamill, a Halliburton convoy commander, might be the most famous trucker to return from time in Iraq. Insurgents attacked his convoy April 9, 2004, as it was heading to Baghdad International Airport. Five drivers were killed in the attack. Hamill was taken prisoner and held for 24 days before escaping. He has detailed his experience in the book Escape in Iraq, co-written with Paul T. Brown.

A fictional movie about American truckers in Iraq reportedly is in the works from award-winning filmmaker Joshua Marston, who directed Catalina Sandino Moreno to a Best Actress Oscar nomination in Maria Full of Grace.

For more information on KBR openings, talk to a recruiter at GATS Booth #21161.