Louisiana maintenance team keeps vehicles on road
January 30, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION BASRA, Iraq - The 546th Maintenance Support Team out of Fort Polk, La., keeps vehicles at Contingency Operating Location Basra, Iraq, mission ready and on the road.
First Lt. James A. Kenney, the officer in charge of the 546th MST, 36th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Clarksville, Ind., native, said the maintenance Soldiers work primarily on vehicles, but the unit is also equipped to repair weapons and generators.
He said they provide maintenance support to military transition teams, border transition teams and port of entry transition teams in their area of operation.
"We do all levels of maintenance for them," said Kenney. "Vehicles (are) primarily what we do, but we can also do weapons, generators, pretty much anything that breaks. ... Ninety-five percent of our workload is vehicles."
The unit is on call 24 hours a day to do emergency repairs, said Kenney.
"We do a standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day - we take Sundays off - but we are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Kenney. "If a vehicle breaks down in the middle of the night and it is supposed to be rolling out on a mission the next morning, if (the teams) need it fixed fast, they can get a hold of us. We have not had to do that yet, but we are ready."
Spc. Benjamin M. Wood, a small arms artillery repairman with the 546th MST, and a Lapine, Ore., native, said this deployment has been a learning experience for him.
"(The) 546th (MST) is based around maintenance on vehicles, not so much weapons, and I am a weapons guy," said Wood.
Wood said he has kept himself busy by becoming the unit mail handler, information management officer and learning some of the vehicle maintenance.
"I am not a certified mechanic; I have not been through the (advanced individual training) or the school to become a mechanic, but I am always working with a mechanic, and they are always showing me and teaching me," said Wood. "When something comes in that is not working properly and I take it apart, I look at it, I fix it, put it back together and it is working perfect, I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing that. It is a good feeling."
Sgt. 1st Class Robert L. Delaney, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 546th MST, and a Beaufort, N.C., native, said his unit handles all types of maintenance on the vehicles belonging to the transition teams they support.
"We are tasked with ... anything from changing a light bulb to fixing an engine," said Delaney.
Delaney said he is proud of the efforts of his Soldiers and appreciates the teamwork they demonstrate on a daily basis.
"I like the team we have and the output of work that they do," said Delaney. "(They) are very consistent. At first I thought (our mission) was going to be a little difficult, but we managed ... and it is running smoothly."