News: Maintenance soldiers keep U.S. Division – North mission-ready
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – In a tactical environment, equipment goes through a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis. Sometimes Humvee axles crack, sometimes radio equipment breaks down, and occasionally, a generator needs to be replaced.
Maintenance soldiers assigned to Headquarters Support Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, deployed to Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, keep the Humvees rolling, the power on, and the troops of U.S. Division – North fit ready for any challenge.
The maintenance soldiers of HSC came together to form a cohesive, efficient team capable of keeping the soldiers of DSTB and COB Speicher on the road with working equipment, said Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Rodriguez, platoon sergeant, Maintenance Platoon, HSC.
“There was a lot of work to be done with this platoon when I got to the unit,” said Rodriguez, who hails from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. “The teamwork was there from the beginning, but we had a long way to go to get everybody on the right track. Now we are all pulling together, and I’m sure we are going to develop a strong group of non-commissioned officers out of this deployment.”
A constant workload brings the maintenance soldiers a high level of experience and proficiency, said Pfc. Jared Cannon, a generator mechanic assigned to HSC, and a native of Kirbyville, Texas.
“Things just break down faster in Iraq. The heat and the dust get into everything, and we have had a lot of work to do,” Cannon said as he replaced parts on a 400-hertz generator. “We are out here getting the job done, and I think we should be proud of the fact that we have been able to keep everything running out here.”
Rodriguez said the maintenance mission supporting Operation New Dawn is drastically different from previous deployments when he supported units in combat operations.
“During the past eight or nine years, we have accumulated a lot of stuff here at the COBs in Iraq,” he explained. “Some of it is so old that nobody even uses it anymore, so this deployment we have had the unique challenge of getting accountability for all of this equipment and turning it in.”
Sergeant Paul Sowu, a load list clerk responsible for ordering and accounting for replacement parts, said the reduction of forces presents a challenge because while equipment gets packed and returned to the U.S., operations are still ongoing and U.S. Division – North must stay mission-ready.
“We are basically doing two missions,” said Sowu, who calls Atlanta home. “We are turning equipment in, but we are also making sure all of our vehicles run and radios work properly, and we are doing this with fewer people than we had on previous deployments.”
“We accomplish the mission through pure determination,” he added. “We are a great team, we are like a family and we will put in a 100 percent to get the job done.”
Many of the junior maintenance soldiers stepped up and took responsibilities above their pay grade to accomplish these missions, said Spc. Nick Walter, battalion electronic warfare officer, HSC.
“Some of us were thrust into leadership positions that we didn’t know or didn’t think we could handle, but we pulled together and made it work,” said Walter, who hails from Killeen, Texas. “It was difficult, but we learned a lot, and it put us in a better position for advancement in the future.”
Rodriguez said he has every confidence that his team will continue to keep soldiers of DSTB fit to fight until the last boots set ground back on U.S. soil.