'Ghost' mechanics serve as pit crew for deployed troopers
February 28, 2011
JOINT SECURITY STATION INDIA, Iraq - Regardless of their military occupational specialties, all Soldiers assigned to 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, play a critical part in the advise, train and assist mission in northern Iraq.
U.S. Soldiers assigned to the "Ghost" Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, work in the motor pool at Joint Security Station India contributing to the brigade's mission by ensuring all vehicles within their area of responsibility remain mission ready.
"The Soldiers who work in the motor pool are a vital part of the mission," said Sgt. Lonnie Malone, a wheeled vehicle mechanic and shop foreman of the battalion motor pool, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Bn., 7th Cav. Regt., 4th AAB. "Without us, troopers here don't have tactical vehicles that are mission capable, and they can't conduct their mounted patrols and convoys."
The troopers in the motor pool work 12 to 14-hour shifts cleaning, repairing and servicing vehicles traveling to and from JSS India.
In the event a vehicle becomes inoperable while conducting a mission, the mechanics and technicians are responsible for recovering the vehicle and bringing it back to the remote installation for repairs.
In addition to maintaining the battalion's transportation assets, Ghost mechanics also work with 2nd Iraqi Army Division soldiers, training their counterparts on basic tactical vehicle maintenance techniques.
"It was a culture shock to some of my guys the first couple of times we trained with the Iraqi mechanics," said Malone, a native of Oklahoma City, currently serving his third deployment to Iraq. "But it was easy to work with them, because as mechanics we talk with hand gestures and tools."
Soldiers, like Spc. Jade Stephens, who calls Beecher City, Ill. home, bring unique skills to the wheeled vehicle mechanics running the battalion motorpool.
"I just do my part and try to learn as much as I can from the senior technicians to help out in the motor pool," said Stephens, a welder from Beecher City, Ill., assigned to HHC.
When Soldiers are not in the motor pool working on vehicle maintenance or sustaining their technical skills by teaching the Iraqis, the mechanics rotate through the dispatch office, ordering parts and maintaining accountability of the vehicles conducting missions.
"We're always busy here in the motor pool," said Sgt. Conchetta McGregg, automated logistics specialist, Company E, 2nd Bn., 7th Cav. Regt.
"By doing our part we ensure that our Soldiers have mission capable vehicles to operate, and it's a good feeling to provide support for the guys who roll-out to protect us every day," said McGregg, a native of Chicago.
Despite the difference in specialties, Ghost Soldiers, maintaining the battalion motor pool work together as the driving force behind transportation operations at JSS India, each contributing to the brigade's mission in their own unique way.