By Pfc. Terence Ewings
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Maintaining tactical vehicles and ensuring they are combat ready can be considered a challenging task. But for Soldiers assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, who work in the 'Thunder Horse' motor pool on base, it's a routine operation.

Staff Sgt. Fernando Ramirez, a mechanic assigned to the 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., mentored his Soldiers and other troops on the importance of sustaining their vehicles before they rolled out of the front gate embarking on a vehicle convoy Jan. 23.

"Every chance I get I pass down my years of experience to give them the tools to be successful," said Ramirez, a native of Brownsville, Texas, with 16 years of Army experience. "We instill a sense of pride and ownership in the drivers, because no one appreciates their vehicles as much as they do."

Ramirez and his troops service all the vehicles for their battalion, and they also assist the drivers and operators of those vehicles by teaching them how to correctly sustain their machines when a trained mechanic is not available.

"I like assisting my fellow Soldiers," said Spc. Ramijio Gonzales, an all-wheel mechanic and a native of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Gonzales is one of the junior enlisted Soldiers in the motor pool that ensures the vehicles undergo preventive maintenance checks and services so the vehicles and the accessories inside meet Army safety standards before leaving the base.

"The mechanics are very helpful getting us in and out of the motor pool as fast as possible and up to standard," said Pvt. Kris Nagengast, a 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., infantryman from Flint, Mich.

The Soldiers in the Thunder Horse motor pool not only strive to sustain the vehicles, they also try to pass on their knowledge to their fellow Soldiers so the information goes down to the lowest level.