News: Maintenance team gets together for Project Phoenix
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — On Oct. 1, a team of mechanics were assembled together from the 3666th Support Maintenance Co., 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 96th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), to become the 3666th Support Maintenance Cos. newest heavy equipment transporter mechanics.
None of the Soldiers who were chosen for this task are actual HET mechanics but mechanics of other trades such as generators, air conditioning, small wheel, quartermaster and chemical equipment repair.
"Besides a few of us, I don't think these Soldiers have even seen or been this close to one of these vehicles, let alone worked on one", says Staff Sgt. Terry Stallings, the non-commissioned officer in charge of Shop 242 and a Buckeye, Ariz., native.
On Oct. 9, the first HETs rolled in for their initial inspections. The inspections revealed that the maintenance program was not going to be just another surface maintenance job. Most of the HETs needed major work to include new engines, transmissions, transfer cases, and suspension components. "This was going to be a major HET repair program", says Sgt. Barry Lundquest, utilities equipment repairman and the floor NCOIC of shop 242 from Mesa, Ariz.
Based on the repairs needed, these mechanics decided to give this mission the "perfect name" said Sgt. Lundquest. Instead of calling it the HET program, they named it Project Phoenix. "Just like the mythological bird that was fabled to live 500 to 600 years then burn itself to death and rise from its ashes to live another cycle. The HET will come in broken down and worn out and leave fully mission capable," said Lundquest.
"With so much work to be done, the Soldiers have learned to work together on something that in the beginning seemed almost impossible and now are becoming masters working on this type of vehicle," said 1st Sgt. Russell Richardson, the company first sergeant and a Chandler, Ariz., native. "This tells a lot about these Soldier's character and motivation," he said.
"The 3666th Spt. MC has always taken on challenges that some thought they were not meant to do and have always come out successful," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeffrey Morris, from Peoria, Ariz., and the engineer equipment maintenance warrant officer.
"Of course, it wouldn't be a challenge if everything went smoothly. The team has seen its share of hiccups and obstacles, like the lack of tools, 110 volt power and parts, but we adapt and overcome," said Sgt. Lundquest.
On Nov. 28, the first completed HET rose from the ashes and has already supported four missions covering over 800 miles according to Richardson.
Morris said, "This is why we are here. We came to Iraq to perform a mission whatever that mission might be. We are mechanics looking for the opportunity to face an honorable challenge. The Soldiers who are assigned to me are some of the best the 3666 Support Maintenance Co. has to offer. The Soldiers on Project Phoenix are versatile and come with their own knowledge and specialties. They will do whatever it takes to roll these HETs out fully mission capable. Each and every one of them clearly understands the importance of this mission."