News: A Soldier’s passion, a vehicle’s readiness
Story by Sgt. John Couffer
FORT HOOD, Texas – While growing up in his hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind., his father mentored him on how to diagnose and fix various vehicles with a fair amount of accuracy and interesting enough, his father was deaf. Now, as a soldier, he supervises fellow mechanics and repairs faults on military vehicles ensuring their operational capability.
Sgt. Jovan Davis, an all-wheel vehicle mechanic assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st “Centurion” Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, assists soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters “Hammer” Troop of the Ironhorse Brigade, with conducting preventive maintenance checks and services on their unit’s vehicles.
Davis said he wasn’t a hands-on mechanic type of person but his father would, on occasion, bring him to work to listen for car problems. He added they would communicate, by signing, to validate and correct the issue and that is how he was introduced to mechanics.
Later in life, Davis said he was turned on to the Army by his cousin. He said he eventually tested for and joined the Army as a mechanic for the educational opportunities.
Davis then attended a total of 40 weeks of Advanced Individual Training at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and was sent to Germany for his first assignment.
When asked what he likes about being a mechanic, the seven-year Army veteran said it’s about the calmness he gets by working one-on-one with an engine.
“If it’s a big job, I like to work by myself, I like to work at my own pace,” Davis said.
Davis explained that, as a junior soldier, he was known as a slow worker, but each job he finished was done correctly the first time and on time.
When it comes to maintaining mission-ready military vehicles, conducting PMCS is very important, Davis said.
“PMCS is a whole concept, it’s kind of the life blood of the heavy brigade combat team,” said Midland, Mich., native Capt. Timothy Martin, commander of Hammer Troop. “We exist solely on our vehicles … and our ability to use our vehicles in the fight.”
Martin explained in order for the brigade’s vehicles to function in the fight, soldiers should be hands-on and become familiarized with their vehicles to the extent they know the quirks, mechanics and operation of their vehicles. He added, the better a soldier knows their vehicle, the better it will operate.
Martin said operators aren’t the only individuals responsible for their vehicles’ maintenance.
“Everyone needs to learn, regardless of rank,” Martin said.
He added, everyone, from the operator to unit commander and mechanic, has a part they play in the overall scheme of maintenance in the Army, and if any piece of the maintenance ladder falls, the whole system falls.
Davis said once a fault is identified by the operator, the deficiency is checked and re-checked by the operator’s supervisors and by a mechanic.
Martin said although the Army instructs that command maintenance be done weekly, different mission sets may require maintenance to be done more often.
“It really is dependent on (operational) tempo, because if you go out to the field, you do it daily,” Martin said.
Another reason to conduct maintenance daily in the field or in combat is to ensure the vehicle is ready to move at a moment’s notice, Martin said.
Davis explained that one of the most important things to do when conducting PMCS is to go through troubleshooting procedures when something does not work properly.
“I’ve heard stories about a guy replacing a whole wiring harness for a simple light bulb, when truth-be-told, he didn’t even need to change it,” he said.
Inspecting for mechanical faults is important, but there are other items to look for while conducting PCMS.
Safety equipment is part of PMCS and usually encompasses items like a first-aid kit, warning triangles and a fire extinguisher.
Other safety measures to inspect include functioning lights and an operational horn, said Los Angeles native Spc. Joseph Love, an aviation operations specialist also assigned to Hammer Troop.
Like Martin and Davis, Love said the potential for something to go wrong, because of an improper PMCS or overlooking a missing item, can affect the mission.
Although Ironhorse’s maintenance is important, it is not limited to vehicles.
“Maintenance is supposed to encompass everything, the “holistic Soldier” concept,” Martin said.
Martin then explained the concept encompasses night vision equipment, individual-protective and communications equipment, weapons platforms and the soldiers and their basic skills - because soldiers need immunizations and medical evaluations to ensure maximum combat effectiveness.
When it comes down to taking care of equipment, Martin said to do the right thing.
“The Army has made it very simple. They said, here’s a manual, just do this one thing once a week and you will have cared for your vehicle correctly,” Martin said.
Davis said, as a mechanic, he likes to share his knowledge of maintenance with soldiers who are willing to learn.
To further his maintenance knowledge and Army career, 27-year-old Davis said he has plans to get promoted to Staff Sgt. and submit a packet to become an automotive maintenance warrant officer. He added that if those plans don’t work out, vehicle mechanics is in his future.