"Old Ironsides" Soldiers tour ANAD
June 9, 2011
Five of Anniston Army Depot’s ultimate customers toured the installation June 1 and 2 as part of Operation Tell Your Story, a quarterly program that allows Soldiers to meet with the men and women who maintain and repair their vehicles and weapons.
Two tank operators and three mechanics, all members of the 1st Armored Division of Fort Bliss, Texas, known as “Old Ironsides” for their longstanding history with tanks, said their visit to Anniston was the first time any of them had been to a depot.
They were greeted by Depot Commander Col. Timothy Sullivan who told them there were four reasons why the installation regularly invited Soldiers to tour " for the workforce to meet the Soldiers, to allow the Soldiers to see the work performed here, to allow those who use the equipment to tell the depot workforce about issues they have seen in the field and to pass along the depot’s story to their fellow Soldiers when they return to Fort Bliss.
“We want you guys to give us feedback,” Sullivan told the visitors.
Sgt. Dennis Diver, Spec. Shane Kelly, Spec. Joseph Landals, Staff Sgt. Edward Bickett and Staff Sgt. Fitzjames Spence toured various depot operations including the Combat Vehicle Repair Facility, the Small Arms Repair Facility, General Dynamics Land Systems’ Stryker facilities, the turbine engine shop, turret facility, Powertrain Flexible Maintenance Facility and Anniston Defense Munitions Center’s Missile Recycling Center.
“It’s good to see the equipment being repaired and know what happens to it when we charge it in from Iraq,” said Bickett, a tank commander with the 1AD’s 4th Brigade. “I was impressed with the routing system used to distribute the parts to all the shops for repairs.”
As tankers, Bickett and Spence were familiar with many of the vehicles repaired and overhauled here and Spence said he worked with every type of vehicle he had seen at the depot except the Stryker.
All three mechanics, who are part of the 1AD’s 1st Brigade, were awed by the processes they viewed in the Combat Vehicle Repair Facility, which included putting the track back on a M114.
“It’s a lot more detailed than our job,” said Kelly. “They break every vehicle down to the bare bones.”
“This trip gave us a chance to see that yes, there really is an army of people working on these vehicles,” said Landals.
The way each shop organized the parts and tools they worked with was also impressive to the Soldiers.
“I’m used to seeing a tank in a bay with all the parts scattered around it. The organization here is just amazing,” said Diver.
During their visit, the men had an opportunity to test fire a M2A1 in the Small Arms Repair Facility and ride in a M1 Abrams tank, but the experience of watching the depot’s mechanics take apart and put back together the vehicles that take them into battle was what stuck with each of them.
“I never thought I would see a shiny M88,” said Diver.