The 597th Transportation Brigade at Fort Eustis, Virginia, has reaped the benefits through a member of the Department of the Army Logistics Management Intern Program based out of Fort Lee, Virginia.
Gene Zerby, assigned to the operations section of 597th for about five weeks since the end of August, quickly established himself as a valuable addition.
"I'm highly impressed with Gene and what he has brought to the team," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael "Craig" Bishop, 597th chief of operations. "I'd really love to have him as a permanent member of the team."
Upon Zerby's arrival, he spent time going through and tracking 597th in-transit visibility (ITV) systems and Integrated-Computerized Deployment System (I-CODES) as well as working with 597th marine cargo specialists to learn how the unit tracks terminal operations and cargo through-put, according to Bishop.
Zerby, a retired Army noncommissioned officer and automated logistics specialist, fit right in at the 597th.
"I think from the very beginning we realized he already knew a lot," Bishop said. For anything he didn't know, Bishop said that Zerby was a quick learner.
"He quickly went from getting exposure to those systems (ITV and I-CODES) to being employed and involved in hands-on training," Bishop said of Zerby.
One of the highlights of Zerby's time at 597th has been his role in the development of a Continental United States (CONUS) deployment smart card and handbook in conjunction with Michael Almodovar, 597th marine cargo specialist.
"The development of that product has been a long time coming," Bishop said.
The CONUS deployment handbook is continuing to be developed and is an initiative driven by Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Ryan, commander, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), to ensure that any units deploying from CONUS understand the requirements and have points of contact. The smart card is a snapshot of the handbook, said Bishop.
"Gene jumped right in and helped produce a great product," Bishop said. "He's been a really good teammate and we're glad we've had him on board. He's been involved in all our planning meetings. He has been a great asset and we'll be sorry to see him go."
Zerby's last day with the 597th is Oct. 14 and he will return to Fort Lee Oct. 17 with his intern classmates to tie up any loose ends related to the course and prepare for graduation.
"We are the Army's intern program for the three logistics career programs -- CP 13, 17, and 24 (supply, maintenance and transportation)," said Eric Perryman, DA Logistics Management Intern Program manager. "There are 31 career programs in the Army and we manage three of them."
The 18-month logistics intern program includes four blocks of instruction and training opportunities (Intern Logistics Studies Course, Basic Officer Logistics Course, on-the-job training at a non-Army installation and OJT at an Army installation, and a component comprised of several computer courses and distance learning) and its classes have varied levels of age and experience.
"We get 23-year-olds right out of college that don't know anything about the Army to retired 30-year master sergeants," Perryman said. As long as program applicants satisfy its stringent requirements, they can qualify, according to Perryman.
"This (597th) could become an Army OJT (on-the-job training) site for those in the transportation field," said Perryman.
Bishop said if Zerby was representative of who the 597th would receive from the program, the unit would welcome them aboard.
"We don't want to give him back," added Larry Lawrence, 597th marine cargo specialist, of Zerby.
Zerby was also complimentary of Lawrence.
"Larry was a great guy to learn from and hang out with," Zerby said of Lawrence. "I enjoyed my time here -- working with Larry, Commander Bishop, Mike (Almodovar) and Rick (Wilson). It was fun. I like doing a lot of hands-on stuff so whenever they would go to the motor pool, I'd go over there. There are a good bunch of people here."
In regards to Zerby's stint at 597th Perryman added, "I'm glad it has worked out." With an experienced Army veteran joining a group of competent, trusted professionals, a recipe for success was created.
"He was sitting with and working hand-in-hand with some of the best in the business," Bishop said. "Larry Lawrence, Mike Almodovar, Rick Wilson -- these marine cargo specialists have a wealth of knowledge."