Turning wrenches isn't all TF Guns' mechanics do
January 16, 2012
Most people should not be surprised to read that soldiers are going outside of their base regularly and conducting convoy operations out here in Afghanistan.
Soldiers in combat military occupational specialties do this all the time.
Yet it may be a surprise for some to learn that at Forward Operating Base Kunduz, ground maintenance personnel assigned to an aviation unit are doing the same.
Ground maintenance soldiers within Company E "Equalizers", Task Force Guns, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, have been conducting convoy missions on a regular basis for quite some time, said 1st Sgt. Blake Kennedy, a native of Shreveport, La., and the senior enlisted leader of Company E, TF Guns, 1st ACB.
"It all started with a soldier who needed some quick medical attention at a level beyond our facilities here," said Kennedy.
Kennedy elaborated that the soldier's medical issue was serious enough to require timely care, yet it was not serious enough to warrant a medevac, so they had to rely on the relatively lengthy process it took to coordinate convoy support through the infantry unit there.
After this happened the task force command group came together and developed a plan to handle the mission themselves in case another situation like this was to arise, said Kennedy.
Since then, the plan has expanded and the soldiers of the maintenance platoon have been regularly running missions transporting personnel and supplies, said Kennedy.
Besides the obvious benefit of being able to more efficiently complete the mission, it seems the soldiers enjoy being able to go out on the mission, said Kennedy.
"I like [going out on convoys] because it's given me a chance to do some of the basic Army stuff I don't normally get to do [as a mechanic]," said Spc. Chloe Griffith, a native of Ventura, Calif., and a utilities equipment repair specialist for Company E, TF Guns, 1st ACB.
Griffith is one of only four gunners for the company and has been on many of the convoy missions.
She said that while she has not yet encountered any hostile activity, she is confident in herself and in her ability to handle any situation that arises.
Furthermore, while performing the duty of convoy security may be unusual for a mechanic in an aviation unit, it does not mean they are any less prepared than any other soldier.
"We did a lot of train up for this, and it definitely comes into play out here," added Sgt. Nathaniel Murphy, a native of Long Island, N.Y., who is one of Griffith's direct supervisors and the ground maintenance shop foreman for Company E, TF Guns, 1st ACB.
Murphy added, "We take pride in our professionalism, and we get the mission done as quickly and as safely as possible."
Considering the dedication to mission success and safety these maintainers have, maybe it should come as no surprise that they are regularly conducting convoy missions outside the wire.