By U.S. ArmyFebruary 17, 2009
Since June 2007, RRAD has continually deployed personnel to support the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected program. Approximately 520 Red River personnel are currently deployed to various locations in Southwest Asia.
Red River civilian soldiers support the Program Manager of MRAP by de-processing MRAP vehicles for issue, sustaining MRAP vehicles in operation and providing unit embedded maintenance support teams.
"During the past two years, RRAD has continued to be the backbone of the MRAP program in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and here in CONUS," said Col. Kevin Peterson, deputy project manager for the MRAP Joint Project Office. "With rapid fielding of over 900 MRAP vehicles a month and sometimes more, RRAD personnel have kept the quality of the vehicles leaving the fielding site at such a state that readiness rates in our fleet remain in the 90th percentile."
Many RRAD employees admit to initially traveling to SWA for the income but quickly have a change of heart once they realize the importance of their dedication to the Soldier.
"We were working on a vehicle after regular duty hours one night and were about to get ready to go home," said Bruce Terral, a RRAD mechanic who was deployed to SWA. "A group of Soldiers rolled up in a MRAP vehicle and said that their air conditioner was out and wondered if we could help them get it fixed. While we were working on the air conditioner one of the Soldiers said 'my wife can sleep at night because I'm in a MRAP.' That's what it was all about it for me."
Not only do RRAD employees design, redesign and/or fabricate required parts for the vehicles at each site, but they also supply the other fielding sites with technical requirements. None of employees credit their new found inventions to money or recognition but to the surety of saving a life of a Soldier.
Alejandro Martinez and Golden Long, both RRAD mechanics, fabricated a bracket to reflect the low hanging power lines from hitting the top of MRAP vehicles.
"We put in long hours and the demand is high, but there's a lot of dedication and commitment and pride here," said Alejandro Martinez. "This is my responsibility to my country and our freedom."
The depot deploys personnel with the following skills: Mechanics, Production Control, Supply & Administrative Support, Transportation Coordination, Quality Assurance, Welders and Electricians.
"RRAD personnel in theater have proven that they live up to their own motto Build it as if your life depends on it," said Peterson. "They have done that and continue to do that by going above and beyond their duties, and in some cases risking their own lives to give the Warfighters the best equipment they can. They are true heroes for our country."