Army Mechanics Keep Wheels Rolling Into Combat
By Spc. Ben Brody, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP LOYALTY, Iraq, April 25, 2005 The sound of cranking ratchets, rumbling engines and shrieking timing belts can often be heard in one spot on Camp Loyalty.
At the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division motor pool, 11 mechanics work long, strenuous hours maintaining the brigade's vehicles.
"We're working hard to keep the unit mobile and sustain our combat power," said Army Staff Sgt. Keith Kerrick, the company's shop foreman. "We keep y'all rolling."
Kerrick, from Washington, D.C., said he often works hand in hand with other 2nd BCT motor pools to secure needed parts, rather than waiting weeks for orders to be filled.
The motor pool also handles all of the brigade's attached units and their vehicles, such as civil affairs, psychological operations, personal security details, and Air Force detachments. In all, they are currently responsible for about 70 vehicles, and every week they get more.
Vehicles as diverse as Humvees, light medium tactical vehicles, M577 armored personnel carriers, M88 recovery vehicles, M2 Bradleys, and generators can be found in various states of disassembly during the day in the motor pool.
"It's a good team, a good set of people -- squared away noncommissioned officers," said Pvt. Uriah John, a generator mechanic. "I'd stay 20 years right here with this team if I could."
John, from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, said he thinks the 3rd Infantry Division is a good place for a soldier to start a career. "It's tough here (in Iraq). You get put to the test mentally and physically," he said. "But the pressure makes you perform at a higher level."
On any given day, mechanics can be found upgrading vehicles with armor and other equipment, while performing organizational-level preventive maintenance checks and services, said Spc. Luis Crespo, the motor pool's supply specialist. Crespo, from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, has responsibilities that include ordering parts for vehicles and issuing them to mechanics.
A typical day at the motor pool runs until dusk, and judging by the sweat pouring off of the mechanics, the days are demanding. The group usually tackles four vehicles for routine maintenance per day, and then deals with whatever repair issues pop up.
Sometimes the crew performs major repairs on up to 10 vehicles a day.
"We have a lot of attachments that we're responsible for, but the team really comes together," said Staff Sgt. Harry Anderson, motor pool noncommissioned officer in charge. "We try to make it a home away from home here and keep a good atmosphere."
Anderson, from Sumter, S.C., believes the key to his team's unity is good communication.
"We have soldiers risking their lives every day, using vehicles all the time," John said. "It's important no one breaks down out there in the combat zone or gets hurt because of faulty safety equipment."
(Army Spc. Ben Brody is assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.)