News: 3d Cav. Regt. mounted rifleman brings civilian skills to the fight at FOB Lightning
Story by Maj. Vance Trenkel
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Spc. Austin Gott, 20-year-old Iola, Kansas, native, from Rough Rider Company, 1st Squadron Tiger, 3d Cavalry Regiment has been doing welding projects for numerous organizations located on forward operating base Lightning in his spare time while deployed in Afghanistan.
Gott enlisted as a 91S, Stryker mechanic, at age 17, before he finished his junior year of high school in Joplin, Missouri. At this time he was already attending the Franklin Technology Center in Joplin, working towards his American Welding Society Certification.
When Gott enlisted, his current hometown of Joplin was still recovering from the May 2011 tornado. His high school was destroyed and all the students were being taught in a closed down mall. He was simultaneously completing a two-year vocational degree to become proficient at metal inert gas welding, gas tungsten arc welding, shielded metal arc welding and plasma cutting. Gott completed his welding certification, graduated from high school, and then held a welding internship for a lawnmower shop, all before he went to basic training at 18 years old.
Gott built a platform from scratch for the common remotely operated weapon station for the U.S Army Special Forces located near FOB Lightning. The CROWS keeps the operator safer because only the weapon is exposed to enemy fire.
Gott also fixed the grill for the DFAC. The entire FOB was thankful for the steaks that were grilled later that week on Gott’s handiwork.
Gott has worked on everything else from gates to generators. He is also certified to recover and work on MaxPro mine resistant ambush protected vehicles. He has been on one MRAP recovery mission since he has been deployed to Afghanistan.
Not only did Gott work with Americans, but he also worked side by side with Afghan forces and fixed some of their equipment. Gott stated, “I didn’t know the Afghan Nationals were going to work with us this much. It was very comforting when I found out they were normal soldiers just like us.”
Gott’s work will remain being useful to the Afghan National Security Force after U.S. forces return the land and retrograde off FOB Lightning.
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