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VIRAL VIDEO: Tanks On Train Explained

Rumors were rampant about footage of military vehicles being shipped on the rail line near Watsonville.

It was a train to somewhere.

A video showing more than 100 Bradley fighting vehicles and HEMTT fuel trucks being shipped by train was shot outside of Watsonville last week. It went viral on YouTube and netted hundreds of thousands of views in five days.

Andrew Tuckman originally posted the footage, shot Jan. 19, on Facebook. Two YouTube users uploaded the video the next day, generating 134,000 and 89,000 views, respectively, by Wednesday night.

But the 2 minute, 44 second video created far more questions—and conspiracy theories—than answers. The two versions of the video posted on YouTube had about 1,500 comments between them.

"How scary!!!" Danielle Marie Baxter commented on Watsonville Patch's Facebook page, where the video was shared.

"Oh my, heading for Occupy Salinas! Turn your tanks into tractors, feed the world!" Patrick Putnam commented.

"War with Mexico??" Beverly Young suggested.

Actually it's not that complicated. Interviews with military officials and a railroad representative delivered some answers and interesting factoids.

"In the case of the recent train that was seen moving through the Watsonville area, Union Pacific made the shipment from Southern California to the Portola area," said Aaron Hunt, spokesman for the railroad.

The Portola area, where Hunt said the trains were heading, is in Plumas County, near Reno. Hunt didn't know where the vehicles may be heading from there.

But one astute videographer, who captured the same train running through Morgan Hill, explained it:

Military equipment train loaded with tanks and other vehicles of war rolls through Morgan Hill, Calif. on Jan. 19, 2012. The train originated in Oxnard and is headed to the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong. This train ran as the UP 7623 SOXHR-17 via the Coast Line.

Here's a link to his video. People also posted videos of the train rolling through Castroville and Hayward, though none were as popular as Tuckman's.

So, question answered.

Hunt, whose company owns the rail line east of Watsonville where the train chugged through, said Union Pacific regularly transports equipment for the military because shipping freight by train is cheaper than trucking it.

"A single Union Pacific train can carry as much freight as 300 trucks," Hunt said.

It's also common practice for active duty Army and National Guard units to ship their equipment as part of training exercises, according to Maj. Jonathan Shiroma, California National Guard Army public affairs.

“They train or they rail the tanks in from anywhere in the country," Shiroma said.  “What’s likely that could happen is there is a training base in the desert—Fort Irwin.”

Fort Irwin, in San Bernadino County, is one of the largest Army bases in the West.

Fort Irwin spokesman Donald Ross said a portion of training for each Army unit involves packing and transporting all of their gear, including tanks like what was seen in the YouTube video.

However, Ross didn't claim the tanks that rode the rails in Watsonville.

“Those are Bradley fighting vehicles but I have no idea where they might be going,” Ross said, explaining that the woodland camouflage pattern on the vehicles indicated they wouldn't be coming to Fort Irwin, smack in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

Shiroma offered one exciting possibility for the tanks: that they were heading to the big screen. Some National Guard tanks are being used in the filming of the new Superman movie, which got underway this week.

However, the tanks coming through Watsonville were traveling the wrong way. Shiroma said they weren't the movie extras.

Rebecca Tait January 26, 2012 at 04:38 PM
We are not at war here at home. Why is this so secret? If there is a training exercise, so what if people know about it? Why are the tanks whereabouts so secret?
Jennifer Squires January 26, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Rebecca, I was surprised too. It was really challenging to get answers on this. Lots of "that's not my tank" from the military and, in the end, the railroad company knew more than anyone.
Maria Grusauskas January 26, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Wow. thanks for this Jennifer! still mysterious.. but its nice to have some answers..
Tania Grant January 26, 2012 at 11:53 PM
If the intention was to keep the tanks secret, they would have been well covered with tarps or boxed in. The military does not have to announce to anyone ahead of time what they are shipping except to those that have a need to know. This is not a rodeo production.
Cathy P. January 27, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I read on a Morgan Hill forum that the train originated in Oxnard and is headed to the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong. This train ran as the UP 7623 SOXHR-17 via the Coast Line.
Tedd Cossitt January 28, 2012 at 04:09 AM
That's how we transported all our vehicles when we went to Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm. By rail to the airport and/or shipping docks. It's a very common practice when transporting a large number of vehicles. We even did this for REFORGER training in Germany. Nothing secret or mysterious about it. If you live in or near a military base this is something you don't even look twice at. i can understand how those with little experience around military personnel could get the wrong idea though.
Tedd Cossitt January 28, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Also, the (probable) reason it was difficult to get information from the military is the fact that the military has very strict rules on speaking with the media and a military person can only do so with specific permission from specific departments. As in all government, that means red tape and time. It's not that the information was classified, it's simply a matter of not wanting to chance saying something that your commander doesn't like.
TMay January 28, 2012 at 07:24 PM
#1 There was unified military war games in LA last week which included military and LAPD and helicopters practicing urban warfare."The exercises are designed to ensure the military's ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments, and meet mandatory training certification requirements, police said." KFI am 640 #2 For several years the pentagon has been conducting war games to control the Amer population in the event of an economic collapse or food shortage. Google Unified Quest 2011 :-Army studying implications of “large scale economic breakdown” -Would force the army to keep order amid civil unrest -Army to deal with fragmented global power and drastically lower budgets. You can google CNBC report and Glenn Bbck report in fall of 2010. Theer were exercises in Boston. There were National Guard exercises in Alaska. #3 I doubt very much that we would put troops on the ground in Iran nor Syria. #4 The military has had their budget cut, therefore there could be consolidation going on etc.
Brad Kava (Editor) January 28, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Tedd: good point, but we are no where near a base..?
Stan Johnson February 05, 2012 at 07:02 PM
They are heading to a depot to be stored. From there they are re-fitted or taken out of service. Nothing more, nothing less. Really people, you watch too many conspiracy movies, get control of yourselves. There is a war going on and material is moved in and out of those locations everyday. They have to go to storage somewhere.
rvd217 March 22, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Wake-up people, they are Bradly APC light armor fighting vehicles that will withstand any U.S. civilian owned small arms fire and had to be purchased from the U.K. where they come from and shipped here in multiple loads then loaded all together with other needed support vehicales needed to support going house to house taking our guns and sending us to the fully staffed fema-camps. It was not a train of U.S. desert brown Hum-vees! Plus re-fueling and personnel transporter trucks and they are painted for use in Nor-cal, Oregon, Washington state, Montana, others what a coincidence, Get ready now folks!
Gretchen Frink February 25, 2013 at 05:32 AM
I have lived behind rr tracks for 7 years. Starting about Sept of last year, the heaviest, loads I have ever heard have been coming thru. Some are so heavy they are moving very slow. I just saw strange looking boxcars and many tanks. Everyone can sense or knows what it going on. The jews had some warning. We won't have much.
Burt April 05, 2013 at 04:36 AM
well Gretchen if that is true Americans are ready to fight to the last man so not to worry
Burt April 05, 2013 at 04:37 AM
We probably paid GB to build all this stuff to help with their unemployment. Now we have to put it all someplace

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