FORT HOOD, Texas - Selection for the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence means a unit has maintained its logistics and service readiness to an exceptionally high standard over a period of time. When a unit is selected for the award twice, covering two back-to-back deployments to Iraq, a habit of excellence begins to reveal itself.

Soldiers of 1st "Tiger" Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment won the award during their 2007 deployment to Iraq and are now being selected for the fiscal year 2011 award, both in the large unit category.

"Our squadron maintenance teams consistently work together and maintain a one team mindset," Maj. Jonathan Due, 1st Sqdrn.'s executive officer, said. "Their success is a result of exceptional teamwork."

A unit's consideration for the award is evaluated through their total equipment readiness, maintenance management, maintenance training, and innovative execution.

The squadron maintained more than a 99 percent readiness rate overall and a 96 percent rate for primary combat vehicles. The numbers they held were respectable considering the high operational tempo the squadron maintained with more than 271 separate pieces of equipment.

"What makes this even more incredible is that we did it during the most recent deployment, where we had restrictions on how many guys we could take into theater," Sgt. Dylan Payne, shop foreman for Troop C, 1st Sqdrn., said. "We deployed with half or less of the manpower we had in 2007."

The squadron also received much attention for their innovations in force protection measures. As a result of a great number of attacks on their convoys, Tiger Soldiers adapted an additional piece of armor plating to reinforce the protection of the vehicles' gunner.

Payne said the Soldiers saw the trend of the attacks and immediately implemented the fix to the armor, preventing future casualties to the gunners.

All of the members of the maintenance teams, including civilian Field Service Representatives assigned to the unit, worked closely together and shared each others' responsibilities every day.

Soldiers said one particular FSR, during an impending rocket attack threat, worked with the Soldiers in the motor pool, donning his protective vest and helmet through the night, to ensure the job was done.

Payne said many of the Soldiers had deployed together previously and that cohesion, coupled with the always high standards of the 3rd Cav. Regt., are the reason they have been selected twice.

"I'm extremely proud of the accomplishments of these deserving Soldiers, leaders, and civilians," Due said. "It has really been an honor to watch these guys do what they do every day."