By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A huge military machine facing the scrap yard has found new life serving the residents of McDowell County.
The McDowell County Sheriff’s Department recently acquired a Mine Resistant Ambush Protection (MRAP) armored personnel carrier. The 51,000-pound vehicle was provided through the federal Law Enforcement Support Office, said Sgt. James Muncy of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department.
America’s military is downsizing, so a large amount of surplus equipment is available, Muncy said. Vehicles like the personnel carrier could be reclaimed by the federal government in the event of a national emergency.
“It’s military equipment that would otherwise be scrapped,” Muncy said. “They give it away rather than pay storage fees. At any time, they could come back and get it.”
The personnel carrier is armored, and it’s also equipped with bullet-resistant tires and bullet-resistant windows, Muncy replied when asked to describe the carrier. It has six-wheel drive and a maximum speed of 65 mph. These capabilities allow the carrier, which can carry 11 people, to ford waterways, reach isolated households, and approach barricaded suspects. It could also serve as an armored ambulance for injured police and other people needing transport from dangerous locations.
“No weapon you can buy over the counter could hurt this thing,” Muncy said.
The carrier, built in 2008, had only 7,000 miles on its odometer when it arrived in McDowell County. B.J. Trucking transported the truck for the sheriff’s department, Muncy said.
“We got it free because of that,” he added.
The sheriff’s department has also obtained four Humvees — one of them armored — and other equipment through the MRAP program. A communications truck provided by MRAP is being converted into an emergency response vehicle.
“I didn’t expect this, to be honest,” Muncy said of the department’s new acquisition. “It’s been on my to do list for a while to get an armored personnel carrier.”