By U.S. ArmyMay 28, 2009
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala.--Soldiers with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, made their way east May 19 to meet with government civilians on depot who repair vehicles and small arms like the ones used by this unit during its most recent deployment to Iraq.
"I actually saw one of our M1 vehicles being reset in Bldg. 400," said Staff Sgt. Chad Ault.
Ault was here with Capt. Mike Teel, 1st Lt. Ethan Welhouse and Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Thomas as part of Operation Tell Your Story, a program that allows servicemembers to provide feedback to the government civilians who repair their equipment.
This is the second group of Soldiers to visit the depot this year as part of the same program. Members of the 3rd Brigade 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Lewis, Wash., were here in January.
The 3rd ACR, 2nd (Sabre) Squadron completed in January a 15-month tour in Iraq where its focus was the stability and security of the Iraqi citizens, as well as the capability of the Iraqi army and police to accomplish the same thing for their own country.
"Without the depot providing us quality products, we couldn't be doing what we're doing," said Teel.
For a depot workforce of more than 5,000 civilians, seeing Soldiers come through the shops where vehicle and weapon components are being refurbished was a unique and rewarding experience, as there are less than a dozen Soldiers assigned to the installation.
Mechanics, machinists and welders on depot were proud to host the Soldiers, the ultimate customers, in order to hear how the equipment is managing in theater and how it's helping save lives.
"I feel proud to be able to support the troops, and I really enjoyed seeing them come through the shop and having them provide input and give us feedback," said Mason Hubbard, a mechanic here for eight years.
Aside from the M1 main battle tank, the Soldiers saw repair and upgrade work on tracked vehicles like the M88 recovery vehicle, the M113 armored personnel carrier and the Paladin. They also met with government civilians and employees from General Dynamics Land Systems who build and reset the eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle.
The visitors said they would encourage more units to send their Soldiers to Anniston Army Depot.
"This was the first time in my career that I was given the opportunity to see what goes on at the depot level," said Teel. "It's an extremely important process for our units to understand. It gives us a new appreciation for what the civilian worker does at the depot."
Welhouse said he was most impressed with the managers' concern for quality control and the vehicle acceptance rates for which they were responsible. Referring to the combat vehicles as "my tanks," he said he liked seeing the reset work and knowing that he'll see the same equipment "back at Fort Hood."
"I was impressed by the level of attention to detail that goes into every vehicle that rolls out of here," said Thomas.
For Ault, he was most impressed with the Career Academy, the depot's campus for high school and college-level cooperative education students learning trades like welding, machining and electronics. "I certainly hope that this program continues to benefit the younger generation in and around the Anniston footprint," he said.
Though they have undoubtedly logged plenty of hours travelling in a combat vehicle, this group of guests was given a tank ride around the depot's 1.1-mile vehicle test track to see what civilians monitor as they drive the equipment through obstacles. And to reach a wider depot audience, Teel and Ault made a special appearance on The Morning Show where they were interviewed during the live weekly broadcast about their experiences using the depot's equipment.