Renovation shop offers free, first come, first served uniform repairs

Story and photos by U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Twist
139th Mobile Detachment Public Affairs
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATION LOCATION MAREZ, Mosul, Iraq — Soldiers flow into the renovation shop with uniforms in hand, preparing to hand them to the 506th Quartermaster Company for  repairs.

Sgt. Kevin D. Westberry, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the renovation shops with the 506th QM Co. out of Fort Lee, Va., said the renovation shops repair uniforms, tents, dog uniforms, Hawaiian shirts, aprons, book covers and flag covers.

“It’s not just ACU’s that we do,” said Capt. Dwight O. Smith, the commander of the 506th QM Co. “Lots of times people will come in and say ‘Hey, can you do this?’ If we can make the machine do it, we’ll do it.”

Smith, a San Francisco native, said they have two locations at Marez.

The biggest benefit to Soldiers is that the service is free and done within 72 hours, he said.

“Soldiers automatically assume they have to take them to KBR, (Inc.) or vendors,” said Smith.

Westberry, a Willacoochee, Ga., native, said the majority of the work that comes through the shop is done on the spot on a first come, first served basis.

The Soldiers offer emergency work done as well, for Soldiers coming in from outside the COL, he said.

Smith said the renovation shop allows Soldiers to worry about one less item they have to pay for.

“I think we alleviate some of that by our clothing repair mission,” he said.

Spc. Patricia A. Mathis, renovation shop east worker with the 506th and a Philadelphia native, said Soldiers care about their appearance, and bring in their uniforms to make sure they are fit for proper wear.

“They can still look good while they continue their mission,” she said. “We get Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians that come in the shop with clothing that needs to be repaired.

“I feel proud to see them every day,” said Mathis. “(I like) meeting new people when they come into the shop and I love to see the smile on their faces when they come and get their clothes back and see how they have been repaired.”

Westberry said the reactions they get when service members have their items returned is part of their reward. That gratitude brings smiles to the Soldiers who work at the renovation shops, he said.

First Sgt. Joseph T. Walden, with the 506th and a Hammond, Ind., native, said Soldiers at the renovation shops had many obstacles to overcome. He said many did not know how to use the equipment or had never sewn before.

Many had to train hands-on until they had a grasp on the equipment, he said.

Westberry said he had never touched a sewing machine prior to this deployment, only a needle and thread. He said he had learned a lot since arriving in country and dealt with each mission as it came along.

“It’s one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve had so far in Iraq,” he said. “I do it in my spare time. I enjoy doing it.  It helps Soldiers and anybody else that wants something done.”

Westberry said he made a bag for a Soldier’s daughter when he was preparing to go home for leave. He does what he can to make the Soldiers stay motivated or feel at home, he said.

“The mission here is being utilized very effectively,” said Smith.


news photo
Sgt. Kevin D. Westberry, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the renovation shops with the 506th Quartermaster Company out of Fort Lee, Va., and a Willacoochee, Ga., native, repairs a uniform at the renovation shop Oct. 3 at Contingency Operation Location Marez, Mosul, Iraq.
(U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Ryan Twist)