News: Soldiers keep weapons mission ready
Story by Sgt. Ryan Twist
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE TAJI, Iraq — Soldiers with the 3666th Support Maintenance Company Armament shop fix weapons of all sizes, from rifles to tanks, at Contingency Operating Base Taji, Iraq.
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Leon, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the armament shop with the 3666th SMC, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade,13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said if it fires and it is not aircraft mounted, they can fix it.
"Our mission here is ... [to] support anyone in this area for armament," said Leon, a Phoenix native.
Leon said his team regularly repairs everything from pellet rifles, used for marksmanship training, to sniper rifles and machine guns.
Spc. Anthony J. Makar, a small arms and artillery repairer with the 3666th SMC, said units wanting to turn their weapons in for repairs must fill out a request for maintenance form and an inspection and faults worksheet, which can be obtained through unit supply.
Makar, a Norfolk, Va., native, said after the worksheets are filled out the weapons are brought to the armament shop. A job order is generated and each weapon is visually inspected for serial numbers, and to make sure it is something the shop can fix.
"Our work load varies," he said. "Certain days we'll have a large amount of weapons that need to be gauged or worked on."
If the weapons are able to be fixed at the armament shop, they will work to complete the job the same day, said Makar.
Leon said each weapon is gauged to make sure they are put together correctly. He said sometimes weapons will have missing or broken parts that have to be replaced.
After the weapon is fixed, it is tested to make sure it fires accurately.
"Having a weapon down in a combat zone is a no go," said Leon. "We provide service while you wait. You come in with a broken weapon ... we'll have it repaired within the hour."
Leon said they have also done repair work for the Iraqi army.
"We were just doing some minor repairs," he said. "We were getting parts for the Iraqi's and showing them a few tricks."
Spc. Jamison Thomas, a fire control systems repairman with the 3666th, said he is trained to work on the electrical systems of tanks and other track vehicles, but also helps out with any weapons that need fixed in the armament shop.
Thomas, a Mesa, Ariz., native, said he is not able to do his primary job at home because his unit does not have tanks, so he has cross trained while being deployed.
"I've learned a lot about small arms," he said.
Thomas said he wants to be well-rounded in the armament shop, so he can do any job.
"I think everybody needs to know a little bit of everything," he said. "It's always good to help these guys out whenever I get a chance."
The hands-on experience he is receiving on a variety of weapons is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he said.