MRV and H8 trainers and students weather the elements to train to standard
August 4, 2011
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan--At the approximate mid-point in their six-month deployment, Soldiers from the U.S. Army Ordnance School, Track, Metalworking, and Recovery Department have weathered cold, rain, mud, heat and blowing dust to train dozens of Soldiers on operating the M1249 MRAP Recovery Vehicle and qualify many for the H8 Recovery Operations Additional Skill Identifier.
The H8 ASI is a specialized course to train Soldiers to operate and maintain recovery vehicles and how to use standard procedures to rig and recover wheeled vehicles. The sub-tasks include oxygen and acetylene gas welding, recovery methods, boom and hoist operations, winch operations and recovery of mired, overturned and disabled vehicles. The Soldiers train on M984 HEMTT wreckers and M1089 five-ton MTV wreckers. The H8 course is being offered to Soldiers deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom whose units will be issued M1249s.
“It’s challenging here with the weather and the elements,” said Staff Sgt. Michael L. Lampley, U.S. Army Ordnance School, Track, Metalworking, and Recovery Department instructor. “It’s both a positive and a negative " it shows the hardships and trains them to endure the elements and accomplish the mission in this environment.”
Sgt. Maj. Gene M. Sousa, U.S. Army Ordnance School, Track, Metalworking, and Recovery Department, said the H8 ASI is a low-density qualification and is currently taught at the schoolhouse at Fort Lee as part of Additional Individual Training for Soldiers just out of basic training. Teaching the course in theater is different because the Soldiers have more experience on vehicles than Soldiers in AIT he said.
“People are capitalizing on H8 training here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Alvin V. Beehler, Recovery Division chief instructor. “We want to fill our classes and maximize training.”
“I’ve wanted this course for ten years,” said Sgt. Thomas J. Smith, E Company 3/10 General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Beehler added that many units close to the Bagram training site can send Soldiers on short notice to fill empty seats. Sousa said they increased the student load from eight to 12 Soldiers per class to accommodate the demand for training.
“This is a great career boost,” said Spc. Dominique J. Clark, 655th Transportation Company, 1225th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion. “We’re learning the right way to recover vehicles " the safest and fastest way.
“They already know the basics,” said Sousa. “We follow the plan of instruction but integrate their experiences.”
“We gave them a scenario and they plan it out on the ground,” said Beehler as the Soldiers were beginning an overturned vehicle recovery. “We’ll let them rig and correct as necessary.”
A correction was necessary when Staff Sgt. LeJaun D. Taylor, spotted something and called out, “hey what are you doing?” The class stopped to listen to Taylor’s advice and adjust how they were rigging an overturned vehicle.
“Every recovery is different,” Sousa said. “They [the students] need to think creatively and understand the tools they have on each vehicle to complete a recovery that doesn’t damage people or further damage the equipment.”
Twelve students completed the seventh H8 course and graduated on July 10. The instructors are scheduled to continue training for approximately three more months before redeploying to Fort Lee.
Taylor said he feels a sense of accomplishment being part of the first TRADOC Ordnance School unit to deploy.
“They [the instructors] stay motivated every day, out here in the heat and wind and blowing dust,” Sousa observed while standing in the open field used for training and enduring winds of up to 50 mph and blowing dust and sand that left a crust of dirt on every face . “To be in this environment and stay motivated the way they do " it’s incredible.”