ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The depot assembled a travel team of nine M1 Abrams mechanics to assist in bringing the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team to fully mission-capable status.

The mission involved three stops - one in North Carolina, one in Virginia and one in California.

Prior to the first trip, only three percent of the M1 vehicles which fell within the depot's scope of work were mission capable.

"They brought those vehicles back to mission-capable by the time the unit left the training area," said Michael Griggs, a supervisor for the Fielding Operations Division.

"When we finished, there were only two tanks we couldn't fix," said Rudy Hamby, supervisor for the team. "The unit's goal was to be 90 percent mission-capable. They were well over 90 percent when we left California."

The team consisted of engine mechanics, transmission mechanics and general M1 mechanics.

Work began in Fort Bragg, North Carolina on March 10 and continued to Fort Pickett, Virginia on April 22.

There, the team tested 45 vehicles, reset them and performed all necessary maintenance.

There were no breaks between trips, with most of the team members traveling directly from Fort Bragg to Fort Pickett.

"The tanks were 10 or 11 years old. They were primarily used for training and many were waiting for parts," said Hamby. "The team fixed the existing parts, which the Soldiers thought couldn't be fixed."

This first maintenance leg of the journey ended May 17, giving the team three weeks at home before they were again needed.

The temperature was 100 degrees July 20 when the team arrived in Fort Irwin, California. Many days while they were there it soared to 109.

Working under tents in the field, Hamby estimates the men touched more than 80 tanks while there - repairing everything they could, taking replacement parts where they were available and documenting what was taken from one vehicle to enable another to run.

A maintenance unit from Camp Shelby, Mississippi, worked alongside the depot artisans in California, learning better ways to maintain the vehicles as they provided the extra hands needed for this large mission.