ZUTENDAAL, Belgium – The Zutendaal Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 workforce is a unique combination of Soldiers, Army civilians and Belgium nationals who are essentially U.S. Army direct hire employees on the unit’s table of distribution and allowances, or TDA. In addition, the Zutendaal APS-2 site, which falls under the command and control of Army Field Support Battalion-Benelux, currently has a 130-Soldier strong maintenance company deployed from Fort Hood, Texas, working there for the last few months.
The Zutendaal APS-2 workforce is a unique and interesting team accomplishing a critically important mission in support of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, joint forces and NATO with a lot of unique and interesting people – one of which is Marcel Hamers.
Hamers, who has been working at the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s APS-2 worksite in Zutendaal for over three years, is also a Royal Netherlands Air Force veteran.
Hamers has a total of about 20 years with her majesty’s air force, both active duty and reserve time. He also worked as an international truck driver for 18 years, much of which while simultaneously serving with the Dutch air force’s reserve security unit.
“I started out in the Dutch air force doing exactly what I am doing now at APS-2 Zutendaal – ground support equipment maintenance,” said Hamers. “I was working at several Dutch air bases, and then I was assigned to the headquarters in Brunssum, Netherlands. In those days it was called Allied Forces Central Europe.”
“During the Gulf War in 1990-1991 I was sent to Turkey to the border of Iraq with a Dutch air defense Patriot missile unit, maintaining their generators,” said the Dutch air force veteran and former corporal first class. “I also deployed and supported NATO’s IFOR peacekeeping mission in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1995 and 1996."
Hamers, a ground support equipment mechanic at the APS-2 Zutendaal worksite, said his service in the Dutch air force was quite similar to his work at Zutendaal with the U.S. Army, now – especially when he was doing ground support equipment maintenance with the Dutch.
“We also had a small team (in the Dutch air force) so we had to work well together – just like here at Zutendaal,” said Hamers, who now lives in Lanaken, Belgium. “We have to look out for each other and help each other. That’s crucial. Otherwise our team cannot complete the missions we’re given to the best of our ability.”
Missions like what Hamers and the entire APS-2 Zutendaal team competed early this year.
The Zutendaal APS-2 site team prepared several thousand pieces of equipment for an emergency deployment readiness exercise, Hamers said, which ended up becoming part of a larger APS-2 push package in support of current operations in Europe following Russia’s unwarranted invasion of Ukraine.
“We also have a floating bridge company, which we completely overhauled and sent to Poland for the DEFENDER-Europe 2022 exercise,” Hamers added. “And now all that stuff is coming back so we have to get everything back to fully mission capable status and ready to be deployed again. It’s a lot of work.”
Hamers said the ground support equipment maintenance team is very important. If the team is not maintaining the generators, refrigerators, heaters, air conditioners, water purification equipment and more at fully mission capable that can affect the larger overall mission at the highest of levels.
The ground support equipment maintenance team maintains everything that is not a truck or a Humvee. The team services all the equipment so that it’s always ready to go – always 100 percent fully mission capable and ready to ship at a moment’s notice, said Hamers.
“Everything you might do to your car, service wise – like changing the oil, fluids and lubricants, checking the brakes and tires, and conducting repairs, inspections and preventative maintenance checks – our 12-person ground support equipment maintenance team plus two team chiefs do for thousands of pieces of ground equipment,” he said.
There’s a lot of pride and respect associated with being a member of the APS-2 Zutendaal ground support equipment maintenance team, said Hamers, and equally a lot of pride and respect associated with being a veteran of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
“When I show up to King’s Day (a Dutch holiday marking the birth of the king) in uniform or in veteran’s dress code, I get a lot of respect from people,” Hamers said, “and that makes me feel very proud.”
Battalion Benelux is one of four battalions assigned to the 405th AFSB. The battalion provides mission command of APS-2 operations at Eygelshoven and Zutendaal, and is charged with providing and coordinating receipt, transfer, storage and maintenance of APS-2. This enables commanders to conduct unified action and perform a full range of military operations in support of U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The Eygelshoven APS-2 site provides 450,000 square feet of climate controlled warehouse space in nine warehouses as well as 50,000 square feet of hardstand storage to hold and maintain APS-2 equipment sets. The Zutendaal APS-2 site maintains equipment designated for a sustainment brigade and separate reporting units and encompasses 600,000 square feet of climate controlled warehouse space in 15 warehouses as well as 40,000 square feet of hardstand storage.
The 405th AFSB is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging the U.S. Army Materiel Command materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website and the official Facebook site.