By Mrs. Brigitte Rox (AMC)September 3, 2013
Soldiers with the Ohio National Guard's 638th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB) unit were recognized for the special impact they have made to the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) during their annual training, August 10-24.
The 32 Guardsmen are part of an aviation intermediate-level maintenance unit, or AVIM. The men and women have an array of military occupational specialties, but they all tie directly to aircraft maintenance.
"We have everything from general mechanics to all the different breakouts," said Captain Andrew Gupko, the Production Control Officer for the 638th. "We have an avionics shop, an electronic shop, a hydraulic shop, prop and rotor, sheet metal, aircraft structural repair."
Known mainly as the core entity for Army Aviation's maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) for helicopters, engines and their components, CCAD is the perfect training ground for the battalion's specific needs.
During their rotation, the 638th worked alongside the many federal civilians who call themselves depot artisans. CCAD's civilian workforce of approximately 4,000 skilled employees and contractors go to the depot every day to produce indispensible military aircraft for the customer.
It was their job to help the Guard develop the critical skills they need for their next mission.
"We host units regularly for aviation maintenance training across a wide array of aviation MOS categories," said Colonel Billingsley Garner Pogue III, Depot Commander. Though the depot is primarily an industrial facility, CCAD offers no-cost on-site lodging to military personnel and reserve components.
"This block of training is our biggest bang for our buck," said Sergeant First Class Brad Pietzcker of the 638th.
He says that the nature of training the National Guard has its challenges. "Throughout the year we meet one weekend a month, twelve months a year. If they are deployed, our people are going to have to know how to do exactly what they do here at CCAD. We're going to have to know how to tear down hydraulic components, engine components and engines, we're going to have to know how to do in-depth sheet metal repair."
"CCAD is like nowhere else," added CPT Andrew Gupko. "You can't get this experience anywhere else in the Army. That's why it's very important for us to keep coming down. You come in every day and there's going to be something to do and it's always going to be something that you probably never done before. It leads to new experience."
"The people here [at CCAD] are the best," said 1SG Pietzcker. "I've taken [Soldiers] to other places where you go in the shop and the guy that's in charge of the shop just does not want to train anybody. Here, they know these guys by their first names. They embrace them, they slow down, they train them, and they make them a part of the CCAD family which, to me, is pretty cool."
"Our artisans love having Soldiers among us," said COL Pogue. "And the Soldiers helped us reduce some furlough- and sequester-related backlog."
Specialist Sarah Cloutier is an Automated Logistical Specialist (92A) with the 638th. She came down to CCAD for her second rotation of training. She and SPC Tyler Ganzer were assigned to work in one of CCAD's Aircraft Production Control Division hangars.
Joe Quintanilla, the manager in the hangar, had a special assignment for the team -- they would develop a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for a neglected tool room -- a process that could become a template for all production hangars at the depot.
First, the specialists assessed the ebb and flow of a cluttered tool cage. Then, they used their logistical prowess to create a plan.
"We came up with an idea of what we can change in 30 days and beyond 30 days to improve the logistics and flow of the tool cage," said SPC Cloutier. "The very last briefing we did wasn't just for the hangar [we focused on], but for all the hangars that will implement our new SOP."
"I learned all about tool rooms," SPC Cloutier said of her project. She doubles as a college student at Kent State where she studies accounting and business management. "I don't know anything about tools, but I learned the little things to make it efficient and accountable to control it."
"This project fit perfectly with my minor," she said. "It now runs like a tool room should," said 1SG Pietzcker. "CCAD only has room to improve now."
Quintanilla expects to have the new process fully implemented in Production Control's five tool cages by the beginning of the next fiscal year.
"This was a particularly successful rotation and a win-win for both of our organizations," the depot commander said of the 638th.
"These troops have left a legacy in that department," said 1SG Pietzcker.
Their legacy will be fully realized when they return to CCAD next year to build on all they have learned.
Another rotation of 50 National Guard out of Ohio is expected to arrive at CCAD this month. For more information on CCAD and its training opportunities, download the CCAD app from your favorite app store.