When you get in your vehicle and turn the key, you expect it to start. For many Americans, when that doesn’t happen, they frantically turn to their mechanic. At the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School it’s no different. Vehicles are a key element of the training that Soldiers here receive.
Because of the diligence of those mechanics who “turn the wrench” at B Company, Support Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), the special-operations students and cadre members at SWCS can feel confident that when they turn the key, the vehicle is not only going to start but it’s going to get them where they need to go.
The B Company motor pool is home to a number of military and civilian mechanics who service almost 300 vehicles. The men and women who work in the motor pool have years of combined experience, and are only too happy to share that experience with each other.
Stanley Kinnison, a civilian, has been a mechanic for a long time. “When I was young, my cousin was an airborne mechanic,” he recalled. “I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I could jump out of planes, turn wrenches and shoot rifles " that’s exactly what I wanted to do, and I’ve been here ever since.”
During his 12 years of active-duty service, Kinnison served with the 219th Military Intelligence Detachment as a motor sergeant during Desert Storm. He and four of his team members crossed the desert moving all of the equipment forward with the force.
For the past 12 years, he has been a Department of the Army civilian, still turning the wrenches and ensuring that the troops move ahead.
“I get the most job satisfaction out of knowing that we put the best product out here,” he said. “I brag all the time that this motor pool puts on more miles than any three or four units combined. I’ve never seen a tactical vehicle with 70,000 miles on it, but we have plenty of them here because of the training we do.”
His civilian co-workers are all prior military, and have in-depth knowledge of automotive maintenance, he said.
“They know wiring, fuel injection, welding,” he said. “They know how to enhance a given vehicle’s performance. There is just so much knowledge in this shop.”
Kinnison explained that a key to the unit’s success is the willingness of the “old guys” to pass their knowledge on to the young Soldiers who are assigned to the motor pool. For many of those Soldiers, the motor pool is their first Army job.
“If you can sit down and teach these young Soldiers the right way, then they only know one way of doing something " the right way,” he said.
“Somebody taught me how to do the same thing way back, and you can’t be a good mentor to somebody unless you are willing to share what you were taught.”
He said the young Soldiers in the unit have a “yearning and drive” to do things right.
“I’ll take them and put them in the middle of it and step back and coach them,” he said. “When they are done and they have fixed something successfully, they leave here grinning from ear to ear. That’s my job satisfaction.”
“I often tell them that there is no stupid question, and that if I don’t know the answer, I will find it out.”
“That’s what I was taught as an NCO in the Army, and even though I’m a civilian now, I’m a true blue Soldier,” he said.