Keeping the wheels rolling

113th Sustainment Brigade
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Frank Marquez

Date: 06.11.2015
Posted: 06.20.2015 12:04
News ID: 167440

FORT DIX-MCGUIRE-LAKEHURST, N.J. – A band-of-brothers bond grows even stronger in a still relatively young sustainment brigade at this year’s annual training, which began in late May, here.

Integral literally keeping the wheels rolling, the 113th Sustainment Brigade’s maintenance section led by Sergeants 1st Class David Robertson and John Widmer, along with five other Soldiers acted in tandem to get the unit’s numerous vehicles out the door. The brigade traveled from Greensboro, North Carolina, to New Jersey; a daunting journey totaling nearly 600 miles. At fort Dix, the unit joined numerous other Reserve and National Guard troops participating in Operation Global Lightning.

“This is the field,” said Widmer, who shares Motor Sergeant duties with Robertson. “You are always improving something. In training, there’s a lot to improve. We lucked out. Our vehicles have come a long way. For as far as we traveled from home station, I think we did a pretty decent job. Our list of supplies will probably be tweaked. Because of the distance, we don’t have the convenience of pulling parts off the shelf.”

Robertson, who was recently promoted, said preparing for this AT took a few weeks.

“Before we left, I had a few guys come on orders to make repairs on several vehicles. We had to bring a lot of equipment like power distribution for the Tactical Operations Center, and our own section’s equipment and parts. During the convoy, we kept an eye on the vehicles and helped out with any issues.”

In traveling up the east coast, not only did the maintenance section help get all of Steel Brigade’s troops safely to their destination, the mechanics successfully trouble-shot a problematic Humvee as its transmission failed at the last check point just outside the base.

The Humvee was able to safely make it into a Love’s Truck Stop where the maintenance section took over, attaching it to the wrecker for towing.

Spc. Brandon Hagins, a member of the recovery team, who sat behind the wheel of the wrecker most of the way, said “the big chore was towing the vehicle from the last fuel stop. The rest of the work is what we normally do, unloading generators and making sure everybody gets what they need.”

Breakdowns happen, and with each one came new lessons.

As the failed transmission rendered the vehicle unusable, Widmer said, “You should never fill up all the seats in a convoy, just in case something like this happens.”

Upon arriving at the joint base, work consisted of setting up tents, unloading generators and personal gear, then settling into a battle rhythm, which has been non-stop since the group’s first full day of training on June 3.

The objectives of the mechanics' annual training is to make sure to train the younger Soldiers as much as possible. In the past the brigade depended on experienced key people. Now with this training opportunity the maintenance section will train everyone but focus hard on the new soldiers.

The core of this section has been together since the unit deployed to Kuwait in 2011, arriving back in country in 2012. The brigade deployed to Kuwait not too long after being officially stood up in 2010. Thus, it has been able to work more cohesively over time.

Most of the maintenance team are mechanics, with the exception of one; Sgt. James Midgette, a 92A, automated logistical specialist. The 113th SB maintenance section consists of Spc. Brandin Hagins, Spc. Patrick Edmonds, Spc. Craig Hulighan, and the newest member of the group, Pfc. Nathaniel Glenn.

Arriving at the joint base, the maintenance section had delivered 72 vehicles, 14 generators, eight large state-of-the-art operations tents, many other types of logistics equipment, a mobile field kitchen and 16 Humvee trailers.

The 113th SB maintenance team played a big part in the unit’s deployment to annual training ensuring no Soldiers, and no piece of equipment was left behind.