By Spc. Jason Everett, HHC, 541st CSSB, 96SBDE
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — On Sept. 23, Soldiers from the 3666th Maintenance Company took over the mission at the empty container collection point on Camp Taji. The 3666 is just one of the companies attached to the 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion here on Camp Taji, accomplishing great missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sgt. Lindsey Ainslie of Waterford, Miss., and the non-commissioned officer in charge of the ECCP, leads this hard working group of five Soldiers every day to ensure their mission is accomplished to the fullest.
"I really feel we are accomplishing something great out here" said Ainslie, "every container that gets shipped out of here puts us one step closer towards accomplishing the Army's overall logistical mission. I could not ask for a better team; the Soldiers here have really thrown themselves into their work".
The primary mission of the ECCP is to collect and assess used or damaged containers that need to be repaired and redistributed. The Soldiers at the ECCP repair level one damage to the containers as needed. Level one just means damage that can be serviced with tools and methods within the resources of Camp Taji.
"A dent for instance is something we can handle rather simply" said Pfc. David Dekowski of Tempo, Ariz., and normally a wheeled vehicle mechanic, but is now one of the members of this small yet well formed and close connected group. "If the damage is above our level or resources we process the container for shipping to Joint Base Balad for more extensive work".
The containers that are already serviceable or have been repaired by these Soldiers get shipped back to Kuwait either empty or full of retrograde. They are then put on a ship and sent back to the United States so that units continue to have containers with which to facilitate their movements. It is a seldom mentioned mission, yet a very big part of operations as these containers are used to ship equipment, personal items, and sensitive items for units across the military.
Dekowski said, "Our work is starting to get noticed out here and people have actually started to ask us to look at their containers that are still in use. This shows us that people understand the importance of what we do".
The commander of the 541st, Lt. Col. Paul Dismer, of Morgan City, La., looked in on his Soldiers and was very pleased with what he saw. Spc. Justin Bowerman of Phoenix, Ariz., who is also normally a wheeled vehicle mechanic, received a coin from the battalion commander after he recited the commanders "Four Charges" without hesitation, showing that though the Soldiers are working out in hot, wet, and muddy conditions they remain highly motivated and connected to their unit.
"When you work with such a great team, morale tends to stay high regardless of the challenges we see on a daily basis" commented Ainslie. So, when loading containers with mission essential equipment and not to mention those extra large items wanted but which could not fit into duffle bags, remember this seldom mentioned yet mission critical duty these Soldiers are accomplishing for Soldiers.