ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala.--Five of the depot's customers visited the shop floor Sept. 15 and 16 to talk with employees and see what they do to help the warfighters.

The visiting Soldiers - 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, 9th Cavalry Regiment, C Troop from Fort Hood, Texas - were awed by the detailed way the depot employees built or repaired combat vehicles, small arms and other weapons.

"When we arrived, we had absolutely no clue what goes on in a place like this," said Sgt. Shawn Hayes, platoon sergeant for the group. "This is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life. It is very heartening to see the employees who work hard so we have the equipment to get the job accomplished."

Not only were the Soldiers, who recently returned from Southwest Asia, able to talk to depot employees and share how they have been affected, but they were eager to take the depot's story back to their unit.

"I enjoyed my experience here, and I want to take it back to my guys back at Ft. Hood," said Sgt. Anthony Tripeaux, section leader in C Troop.

Joining Tripeaux and Hayes on the visit were Spc. Morgan Kee, Spc. Shaun Thomas and Spc. Timothy Dodge.

During the two-day visit to the Nichols Industrial Complex, the Soldiers toured the new Powertrain Flexible Maintenance, Turbine Engine, Total Integrated Engine Revitalization and Turret facilities, but it was the Small Arms and the Combat Disassembly/Reassembly facilities that really drove home how Anniston's workforce affects the war effort.

Along the way, the Soldiers were warmly greeted by the depot employees they saw. The Soldiers also felt called to show their appreciation.

"I feel like I'm speaking for my entire unit here. I want to thank you for all that you do. I know you have been thanking us for all we do throughout the day, but, without you, we couldn't be successful," said Hayes.

This group was the third company to tour the installation as part of Operation Tell Your Story in 2009. Soldiers are selected for the program because the equipment they use is remanufactured or built on the installation. For this unit, the depot had recently reset a large number of their weapons systems and regularly works on vehicles similar to the ones they use.

Though they spent only a little more than 48 hours in the Anniston area, the Soldiers said they will never look at the equipment they use the same way again.

"The equipment truly does come out of here better than new," said Spc. Shaun Thomas, cavalry scout and gunner.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16