Soldiers keep it "cool" in Iraq
August 19, 2009
KIRKUK, Iraq -- Whether the air conditioner in your armored vehicle is broken, or your forklift just won't lift anymore, if you're on Forward Operating Base Warrior here, the mechanics at the ground support element section shop are the ones to see.
This specialized group of mechanics hails from different military occupational specialties, and together, they tackle the toughest jobs that the FOB has.
"We work on A/Cs, generators, forklifts, tankers and whatever else they bring to us," said Pfc. Emory Ramey, a Rome, Ga., native and quartermaster chemical repair specialist with 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
With the weather in Kirkuk often reaching above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the Soldiers going out on missions are using their A/Cs harder than ever, and the GSE shop does their best to keep these A/Cs up and running.
"It's really important to keep the A/Cs in combat vehicles running because those Soldiers are going to get really hot without them," said Spc. Joe McGovern, a Gaylord, Mich., native and a quartermaster chemical repair specialist with the GSE shop.
"With your gear on, you've got to be at least 20 degrees hotter," said Ramey.
"A lot of people think the GSE shop only supports the brigade, but actually it supports everyone on and around the FOB," said Sgt. Falecia Mitchell, a Carrollton, Ala., native and a supervisor in the shop. "We fix everyone's A/Cs.
"They are all very appreciative," she said of the people who drop off their trucks to have them fixed. "They love coming to our shop."
But this shop fixes more than just broken A/Cs; in fact, one of their most important missions is to keep tankers that supply fuel to U.S. Soldiers around the province operational.
"The tankers aren't going anywhere if they've got fuel leaks," said McGovern.
"This shop has to get them running as fast as possible so fuel can keep getting out to the Soldiers that need it," he continued.
Although not all Soldiers in this shop were trained to work on vehicles that carry potentially harmful chemicals, they have all worked closely together to learn these new skills from one another.
"All the Soldiers in this shop help out one another, even if they are trained as a different type of mechanic," Ramey continued. "We work together as one team. We are all pretty much cross-trained."
The GSE team is also responsible for keeping the forklifts that work around the FOB working.
"They'd be junk without us," said McGovern. "There would be stuff leaking, the tires worn down, lights not working and the engine running poorly."
For many of Soldiers in this shop, this is their first deployment and it has been a great learning opportunity.
"I didn't know a lot about this stuff before I joined," said Pfc. Paul Hawver, a Milwaukee, Wis., native and a power generator mechanic with GSE.
Hawver had been working on cars for a long time, but is always learning.
"This is a step up from what I already knew," Hawyer said.
"We couldn't keep our forklifts up and running like we do without them," said Staff Sgt. Duy Bui, a Tampa, Fla., native and a fuel specialist with 15th BSB.
"They do a very good job," he said with a smile after the GSE Soldiers told him his forklift was ready to return to work.