By 1st Lt. Randall Cornelison
TFV, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq — Turning wrenches - it’s not the most glamorous job in the Army, however U.S. Army mechanics keep things running with a smile on their face.
Soldiers of Task Force Vigilant, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., work diligently at the Victory Base Complex, Iraq to keep Soldiers on the riding smoothly.
Working twenty-four hour operations from a large wooden motorpool, the Task Force’s maintenance section turns out about seventy jobs a week, ranging from simple annual inspections to replacing starters to repairing the cranking mechanism of the turrets of M1114s.
One noncommissioned officer spoke of the gratitude he had for his crew.
“They’re outstanding … I have a great crew,” said Sgt. Craig Johnson, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the prescribed load list platoon, TFV, and native of Reading, Penn.
Johnson went on to explain that in eight months the maintenance section has only had to “surrender” four vehicles to a higher echelon for issues they could not fix.
“No Soldier likes to surrender, and such a record shows these mechanics are no different” Johnson said.
Another Soldier, who was called to recover an M1114 after it slid into a canal, showed his dedication to his profession after wading through chest-deep water to properly recover a vehicle.
“I wanted to make sure we didn’t bend the tailgate or damage anything when we pulled it out,” sad Spc. Luis Santiago, a TFV all-wheeled mechanic and native of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Santiago was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his courage and professionalism.
Yet, the Task Force’s maintenance section doesn’t limit their work to within the wire. The mechanics have been called out to recover disabled vehicles, place barriers for an Iraqi Army checkpoint in Iraqi Family Village, Iraq and deliver supplies to an Iraqi Police station.
Currently, the section is supporting a mission to make identification badges for the residents of Airport Village, Iraq which will increase the security of the village by restricting entrance of non-residents.
Finally, like many other Soldiers in Iraq, these mechanics have been called upon to perform other duties not related to their military occupational skill, but more to their identity as Soldiers.
An example of these other duties is serving as a tower guard in one of Camp Victory’s many towers.
“It was challenging,” explains Pfc. Jason Burke, a TFV all-wheeled mechanic and native of Long Beach, Calif. “Working on vehicles is fast paced but the problems are obvious. Tower duty requires you to be focused much longer periods of time and to pay attention in greater detail. We had to constantly watch the behavior of locals and for changes in the landscape of our fields of observation.”
In these other capacities they serve with the same dedication to duty as keeping the Task Force’s vehicles rolling, understanding every job is crucial.
One job at a time, one yard at a time, the mechanics of TFV are part of the success of the team.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
By 1st Lt. Randall Cornelison