Generator mechanics keep 25th CAB powered up
November 16, 2009
- Generator mechanics keep 25th CAB powered up
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq - At more than 6,300 pounds and seven feet tall, it's one of the largest generators the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade has at its disposal.
However, until Soldiers of the 209th Aviation Support Battalion, Task Force Wings, got involved, it was essentially an over-sized paper weight.
On October 30, 2009, the 209th ASB generator mechanic team completed repairs to a 60-kilowatt MEP 806 Bravo Model generator, the largest generator to date the team has been called upon to diagnose and repair at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq.
According to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Marlon Mejia, senior maintenance technician, Headquarters Support Company, 209th ASB, this particular generator has been dormant and broken since the unit arrived.
"We [inherited] this generator," said CW3 Mejia. "The prior unit had difficulty diagnosing it, and it seemed that no one could verify what was wrong. Then our mechanics began troubleshooting it," he continued. "After some time, they determined that the issue was the main generator element which is about an $8,000 piece of equipment."
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mejia oversees all maintenance jobs that are generated in, and referred to, the 209th ASB. The battalion's power generation equipment repair specialists - more commonly known as "generator mechanics" -- fall under his supervision.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mejia explained that the generator mechanics are especially critical to TF Wing's mission because much of the brigade's operational elements in Iraq run on generator power. Furthermore, most of the generators must be fully mission capable 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week.
"When the other units can't repair a generator at their level, it gets sent to us. Then it's our job to fix it and fix it fast," explained CW3 Mejia. "That's exactly what our Soldiers did with this one particularly challenging sixty-kilowatt generator."
Pfc. Tammy Gallaher, a native of Chicago, and Spc. Michael Boyle, of Adair, Okla., helped diagnose and repair the large generator. Both are two of just a handful of generator mechanics with HSC, 209th ASB, and both Soldiers love their work.
Private Gallaher first enlisted in the Army back in 1985 and served through 1989. For the next 17 years, she worked in the civilian travel industry for a variety of companies. Motivated by the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, she enlisted again in 2006. Now 42 years old, Gallaher explained her motivation.
"I rejoined the Army mostly because I was a veteran and I didn't like the helplessness I felt after 9/11," said Pfc. Gallaher. "So I came back. This time, though, I decided on a job where I could use my hands and fix things," she continued.
"What I love most about this work is after we're done with a job," said Pfc. Gallaher. "Like once we finished with the sixty-kilowatt generator, we started it up and it hummed. Now that's satisfying!"
Specialist Boyle compared his feeling of satisfaction to hitting a home run in baseball.
"When I first started this work, the sound of a generator working after it was broken was the greatest sound in the world," said Spc. Boyle. "I compare it the feeling [described by] great home run hitters. The first few home runs feel like you're on top of the world, and after those first few, it's just another hit," he said. "But, we do get people saying, 'thank you,' and that's gratifying."
As their commander, Capt. Mark Dudley, HSC, 209th ASB, finds himself frequently acknowledging the value of Pfc. Gallaher, Spc. Boyle and the rest of his generator mechanic team. "I am immensely proud of these Soldiers and how they rose to the occasion to diagnose and repair the sixty-kilowatt generator," said Capt. Dudley.
"They have one of the most visible jobs as far as maintenance is concerned," he continued. "Most everything we need from a power source perspective runs off military generators. For that reason, our generator mechanics are one of our biggest [combat multipliers]."