By Ms. Adrienne Brown (AMC)June 7, 2012
RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas - For nearly 12 years, the United States has been a Nation at war. While the dedicated men and women of our Armed Forces continue to deploy in defense of our country, the patriotic and committed employees of Red River Army Depot feel they have a responsibility to do the same to ensure that Soldiers are supported while they are in harm's way.
"There's no other civilian organization in the entire Department of Defense that has provided more boots on the ground support than Red River Army Depot," said Jimmy Shull, RRAD chief of staff.
Shull's statement couldn't be more correct.
Since 2001, RRAD has deployed over 3,000 personnel to various areas in Southwest Asia in direct support of the Warfighters in the field. The depot is responsible for nearly 50 percent of all Army Materiel Command deployments.
Many of these men and women have deployed numerous times.
"Each deployment gave me the opportunity to channel some of my skills and experience to be able to accomplish great things for our Soldiers," said Alonzo Johnson, who has volunteered for 14 deployment rotations. "My 14 rotations overseas were great, rewarding and challenging. I am proud that I had the opportunity to serve and put forth an effort to be a service to the many men and women that wear the uniform protecting this country."
While talking with employees who have deployed or are currently deployed, there's one distinct fact -- these individuals don't deploy for an increase in salary or recognition.
"Thirty years ago, I graduated from high school and joined the Army," said Eldon Stivers. "A few weeks later my Dad became sick and I knew I needed to get home to take care of my family. The opportunity to deploy as a civilian happened 30 years later and it's like I got a chance to complete something I started...like I filled that void. That's exactly why I deployed."
Stivers, who has deployed twice, said if he's called on again has no problem redeploying.
"The first two months I probably worked an average of 18 or 19 hours a day," said Stivers. "I don't care if I had to work 24 hours a day we were going to take care of those Soldiers. Even if it was something we were not there to do we would still help them. We never turned them away."
RRAD has spearheaded numerous depot-level logistics and maintenance missions in Southwest Asia. The depot has established, sustained, trained and or maintained the following missions: Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET); Contract Officer Representative (COR) for Maintenance Missions; Stored Theater Provided Equipment Iraq (STPE-I); Container Assistance Assessment Team (CAAT); Taji Joint Base Workshop (JBW); United States Equipment Transfer to Iraq (USETT-I); Common Remote Operated Weapons System (CROWS); Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT); Forward Repair Activity (FRA); Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP); Mobile Maintenance Team (MMT) and Vehicle Operational Life Extension Program (VOLEP).
One of RRAD's most successful theater missions is the HET electrical upgrades that were accomplished by the RRAD electrical team members supporting the Army Central Command in Ku¬wait.
Units began experiencing excessive electrical fires on the M1070 HET. An immediate but temporary fix was implemented to make the vehicles operational and safe, but the RRAD team knew to ensure long-term safety a complete upgrade was necessary.
"I went over there for the electrical mission on the HET, but it became so much bigger than just that one vehicle," said Stivers. "We custom built the harnesses for the light system and put LED lights and cop lights on each truck."
Stivers said they originally deployed to upgrade approximately 230 HETs but the mission quickly changed.
"During my tour, we wired 41 gun trucks, 70 HEMTT wreckers, close to 500 HET trucks and about 150 M915 trucks," he said. "We were originally told to install the lights on the lead HET and gun trucks, but what we explained to them is if your two lead trucks go down you have no clearance lights on the convoy. Due to that it was approved for all HETs to get the lights. That's why we were extended because they wanted to even put them on the trucks that were going to Afghanistan. It was a big deal for the Soldiers. They were ecstatic when all the trucks were approved to have lights. We went way above and beyond what we were supposed to do."
Stivers said the maintenance facility installing the lights was known as the "The Light Shop" because it was the shop that never slept.
"We were open for business 24 hours a day," he said. "We trained Soldiers and worked around the clock. We would sit them down in our bleachers and give them a training course for installation, procedure, upgrade and diagnosis."
RRAD Commander Col. Doyle Lassitter and Sgt. Maj. Gregory E. Tubbs recently made a trip to Southwest Asia to visit RRAD employees.
"I talked to the command team and met with the Command Sgt. Maj. in Kuwait and he was very impressed with the work we are doing," said Tubbs. "I talked to several Soldiers as well and they were also very happy with the support they receive from the Red River crew. They told me they can drive in at any time and on the spot our employees would stop whatever they're doing to make sure they get the help they need."
Red River employees are doing such a great job maintaining vehicles that active duty military are sending notes to personally thank the employees.
"I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to your team as they have tremendously helped my Battalion stay combat ready at every hour," said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Myers in an email to Tubbs. "Your team has gone above and beyond to support the equipment here. They were very receptive and understood the importance and drive from higher without question or hesitation. It is the continued support as such that has this Battalion ready for the fight at any given time."