Golden Cargo mechanics keep ammunition convoys running
July 20, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (July 19, 2012) -- When multiple vehicles are traveling hundreds of miles loaded down with ammunition, taking care of mechanical problems are top priority.
Fortunately for the convoys participating in Operation Golden Cargo that are refueling and resting overnight at Fort Leonard Wood as part of Task Force Warhawk, mechanics of the 209th Quartermaster Company from Lafayette, Ind., are on duty 24 hours a day, making sure the vehicles here are up and running for their next mission.
The mechanics of Task Force Warhawk have been instrumental in keeping convoys on schedule during the multi-state exercise, repairing a variety of mechanical problems on multiple types of heavy vehicles.
For example, members of the 424th Transportation Company of Galax, Va., reported a transmission issue with one of the unit's vehicles which resulted in limiting the vehicle to ascend hills at just 5-10 miles per hour.
With Fort Leonard Wood being located in the Ozark Mountains, the transmission fluid leak caused significant delays for the convoy.
Pulling into the motor pool about three hours behind schedule, the vehicle's driver was glad to have mechanics standing by to immediately begin working on the problem.
For the Soldiers of the 209th, the mechanical issues found during the convoys are a chance to use their skills, and for Pvt. James D. Nader of Danville, Ind., his excitement is obvious. He and his fellow Soldiers are getting the chance to do what they love-- repairing trucks.
"I love working on vehicles and if I could do this every day, I would," he said while lying under a M915 Line Haul Tractor.
His sentiment was echoed by Pfc. Lloyd E. Rankin of Lebanon, Ind. "It's good to have the chance to use our training during a real-world exercise," said Rankin as he passed sockets to Nader.
Lying on his back with a drip pan underneath the leak to catch the fluid, Nader is attempting to break the bolts holding the axle cover loose. In a confined space with limited lighting, this is no easy task and he struggles to get the ratchet to turn.
Hands covered in grease, he succeeds in getting the first one loose and continues on to the others. It is hot, dirty work and if the proper precautions aren't taken, it can be dangerous as well.
"When vehicles are brought in they've been running, we have to let them cool down before we can start working on them," he said. "If not, the heat can cause serious burns. We also make sure to have safety goggles on, especially when we're underneath the vehicles. There is always fluid or dirt falling off the undercarriage and when you start adjusting things or removing parts it happens even more," Nader said.
After removing the part and cleaning it, Nader coats it with silicone and replaces it. When the repair is finished, a few checks are done and the vehicle is cleared to go back into service.
With several thousand pounds of ammunition still waiting to be delivered and a convoy unable to proceed until it was fixed, fixing this vehicle was paramount to mission success.
Fortunately, Nader and the Soldiers of the 209th Quartermaster Company repaired the vehicle on time and the convoy departed the next morning.
"What we are doing here is very important to the mission," he said. "We'll get these vehicles in and get them turned around as quickly as we can so they can get to their next objective. It's a great feeling knowing that I was part of making that happen. The fact that I enjoy doing it just makes it that much better."