ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. - Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, saw how the ArmyAca,!a,,cs combat vehicles and small arms weapons are produced here Sept. 14 and 15 during a program the depot dubs Operation Tell Your Story.

A quarterly program, OTYSAca,!a,,cs intent is to not only give Soldiers an opportunity to see how their equipment is repaired and refurbished at the depot, but it also puts a face on production for the 3,000 trades workersAca,!"mechanics, welders, machinists, etc.Aca,!"in the depotAca,!a,,cs Nichols Industrial Complex.

Aca,!A"For our civilian workforce, meeting these Soldiers who come through the vehicle production lines is a very rewarding experience because itAca,!a,,cs through this program they actually get to see the people who have benefited from their labor,Aca,!A? said the depotAca,!a,,cs Sgt. Maj. Tony Butler.

Anniston Army Depot employs around 4,500 government civilians and 2,000 defense contractors who support the depotAca,!a,,cs mission to build, repair, upgrade and reset equipment returning from the Middle East and elsewhere.

The four Fort Hood Soldiers who participated in OTYS serve with A Company, 1st Battalion, WTB, which provides command and control, primary care and case management for Soldiers who have suffered injury or illness while serving in the Army. The WTB ensures its Soldiers receive appropriate medical care and administrative processing needed before moving into the next phase of their Army career or civilian life.

Squad leader Sgt. Bob Santiago said he was surprised to see that Operation Tell Your Story was more than an opportunity for Soldiers to share their combat experiences. Aca,!A"I thought weAca,!a,,cd just talk to the employees about our experiences downrange, but it was more than that. What we were able to see here was something most Soldiers donAca,!a,,ct get to seeAca,!" a lot of teamwork and hard work taking place on important equipment,Aca,!A? he said.

With Santiago were Staff Sgt. Stephen McGhee, Spc. Mark Gilmore and Sgt. Angel Herrera.

Warrior Transition Command is made up of 9,800 Soldiers in 29 Warrior Transition Units at major installations throughout the U.S. and in Germany.

Gilmore and Herrera underwent enough post-battle surgery, physical therapy and athletic training over the last several years to each earn a spot in the Department of DefenseAca,!a,,cs 2010 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. Held for the first time in May, Warrior Games is a partnership between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the DoD. More than 180 servicemen and women participated in the inaugural athletic competition.

Gilmore, a tanker, was injured in Iraq in May 2007. He said his favorite tracked vehicle is the M1A2. Aca,!A"A wonderful tank, a smart invention,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"It packs a lot of power. We (Soldiers) deal with the finished product; here, you have it broken down to the barest level.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"To see all the work that goes into it (the tank) prior to the Soldier pushing the start button, IAca,!a,,cd like to see more Soldiers come here (ANAD),Aca,!A? said Gilmore. He conditioned his body for the Games by competing in charity bicycle rides. He placed fifth in the Warrior GamesAca,!a,,c recumbent bicycle road race and is currently awaiting orders to Fort Bliss, Texas.

Aca,!A"We knew this kind of work was going on, but weAca,!a,,cre glad to finally see the people behind it, all the care and concern in each meticulous step on the production line,Aca,!A? said Herrera, who deployed twice with the ArmyAca,!a,,cs 68th Engineering Company during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

HerreraAca,!a,,cs second tour was in Afghanistan and lasted only five months before the field ordering officer came under mortar attack in September 2008. With injuries that took her out of the Middle East, she was admitted to Fort HoodAca,!a,,cs Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center where she underwent her last surgery in September 2009.

ANAD is the Secretary of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for tracked vehicles like the M1 main battle tank, the M88, the M113 and the powerful pairAca,!"the Paladin and the Field Artillery Ammunition Supply Vehicle, or FAASV. ANAD is also the DoDAca,!a,,cs primary Small Arms Rebuild Center.

At Anniston, the Soldiers met with depot employees in the Combat Vehicle Repair Facility, Small Arms Repair Facility, Stryker Combat- and Battle-Damage Repair Facility, two engine facilities and other support shops before touring the Center of Military HistoryAca,!a,,cs Historical Clearinghouse, a depot tenant. They also witnessed new Strykers being assembled by General Dynamics Land Systems.

Aca,!A"The workers in the shops showed us how they were making improvements on the equipment, making it better than new,Aca,!A? Herrera said.

Mechanic Jason Joiner works on the FAASV assembly line and said he was glad to have been able to express his gratitude for the SoldiersAca,!a,,c service. Aca,!A"We want to provide the best product we can for them,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"TheyAca,!a,,cre the ones risking their lives for us.Aca,!A?

Joiner, a former servicemember, said when it comes to reporting workload numbers and production rates, he puts a greater emphasis on the quality. Aca,!A"I used to ride in these vehicles. ItAca,!a,,cs important for everything on it to be working properly.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"This visit has given me a new perspective on serving,Aca,!A? said McGhee. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a great program, to see all these people supporting us.Aca,!A?

Page last updated Thu September 30th, 2010 at 12:48