By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)September 6, 2018
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Knowledge and experience are a key component to the repair and overhaul processes performed by Anniston Army Depot's electronic integrated systems mechanics.
The men and women in the electronics field at ANAD typically repair every type of electronic component which comes into their shop, working across a variety of combat vehicle systems.
Rusty Kerns is one of many examples of the experience the Optics Branch showcases.
Kerns began his depot career in Oct. 2003, but was working in electronics long before that as a cable television equipment installer and repairer.
He was initially selected for a position in hydraulics, but was immediately asked to fill a need in the electronics branch, because of his background.
"For someone like me, this is a dream job," said Kerns.
Though he has been in the Optics Branch for most of his time on the depot, he cherishes the time he spent in the Final Operations Division because it gave him a chance to see how the components he repaired fit into the depot's mission.
"I think everyone should have a chance at some point to see what they have built in action. That would give them even more pride in what they do," he said.
At the other end of the building, in the Laser/Thermal Electronics Branch, Clay Arrington and Diana Gaither use their vast knowledge and experience to ensure parts leaving their station will function to specifications.
"When it leaves me, my part is going to be right. I would hate the thought that one button didn't work just because someone got in a hurry," said Gaither.
She takes pride in every piece of equipment she builds, knowing the importance that part may be to the lives of Soldiers who depend upon it to work.
In the Laser/Thermal Electronics Branch, employees repair, overhaul and troubleshoot various hull and turret components for combat vehicles including the M1, Stryker and Paladin. They also repair or overhaul the M139 Volcano Mine System.
Though she has only been employed at ANAD since 2006, Gaither has more than 20 years' experience in electronics, having begun her journey in the mid-90s when she left Crown Textile Company in Talladega.
Arrington began his electronics career in high school as part of the depot's cooperative education program.
In his 11 years, he has accumulated experience with a variety of electronic components, especially those in the M1.
"I can probably tell you how to put together a hull-powered distribution box with my eyes closed," said Arrington. "Most people in our shop know how to do everything in the shop."
While the electronic integrated systems mechanics often focus on components, where they work differs throughout the depot.
The Laser/Thermal Electronics Branch and Optics Branch are found in the heart of the depot's Nichols Industrial Complex, one of numerous component repair facilities. But, EIS mechanics can also be found repairing or replacing components in the Final Operations Division.
Phillip Oswalt and Ashton Cohill both work in the Turret Final Acceptance Branch, where they perform a complete inspection of all turret components for fit, form and function and make necessary repairs.
"We make sure the customer is happy and has a complete project," said Cohill.
They came to the depot through different paths.
Oswalt came on board as a forklift driver, working his way up to a term and then a permanent position. Cohill was chosen as one of ANAD's high school cooperative education students.
In high school, Cohill wanted to learn electronics, but was placed in the hydraulics program.
Since electronics and hydraulics are combined at Gadsden State Community College, he was able to get the electronics training he wanted.
"I was always curious about how things worked," he said, detailing how he used to take apart electronics in his house, including video gaming systems.
Every piece of equipment he has worked on during his time on the installation and every place he has been as part of a traveling team has been a learning experience for him. Fortunately, Cohill said he loves to learn.
Since he began his career, he has been to Kuwait, Australia and Morocco troubleshooting issues, performing maintenance and teaching others to repair the electronic components.
"You learn a lot of things on the road that you may not be exposed to on the depot, like how to correct problems on your own," said Cohill.
Oswalt has also served overseas during his time in Final Operations.
The depth of knowledge in the Final Operations Division has always been a source of pride for Oswalt.
"Working in the electronics shop gave me a better understanding of what various components did for the vehicles," said Oswalt. "Being able to put hands on the equipment, rather than be shown, has always been a plus for me."