Motor Pool gets them rolling again
By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
Motor pool mechanics and automated logistics specialists do their part to keep vehicles on the road and out of the bay, seven days a week, come rain or shine.
"The motor pool is important because we make sure everybody gets from point A to point B," said Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Tatum, motor pool NCOIC.
"During convoys, our vehicles are our lifeline, so we need to keep them up and running. When things get hot outside the wire, we need to be able to count on that lifeline to carry us out of there in a hurry."
Soldiers depend on the mechanics to keep their vehicles running smoothly and to technical manual standards.
"I feel that the motor pool personnel do their job. I have no worries about my vehicle breaking down out there," said Spc. Jason Aragon, 13th COSCOM Civil Affairs, who drives in convoys three to four times a week.
The staff of 19 Soldiers is capable of repairing anything that pulls into the bay, including Humvees, five-ton trucks and generators.
"The most satisfying part of this job is making sure that when a vehicle rolls in here deadlined, we do what we have to to get it up and running in the same day," Tatum said.
The mechanics do not put vehicles back on the road unless they are certain the vehicles are safe.
Dry-rotted seals and Class III leaks are commonplace problems made worse by constant operation in the desert climate.
The mechanics take these problems seriously and spend countless hours replacing seals and tightening bolts to fix the problems.
"The environment out here puts a lot of wear and tear on the vehicles. The rough terrain wears out the tires. The up-armoring adds a lot of weight that eats up the ball joints. The heat and the dust really take their toll on the vehicles," Tatum said.
"It's a lot hotter here than it is at Fort Hood, and many of these vehicles haven't ever been through this much operation in such a harsh environment."
They enjoy the challenges and go toe-to-toe with Class III leaks and worn out oil pan gaskets as they bob to the beat of the music that fuels their motivation in the bay.
"I like my job because it keeps me busy, and I like working with my hands," said Spc. Antonio Simmons, a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 13th COSCOM motor pool.
Crankcase oil under fingernails and coveralls smeared with vehicle fluids are part of the job for the mechanics. Most of the mechanics shudder at the thought of doing office work. Under a Humvee, light medium tactical vehicle or 5-ton is the place for them.
"The most satisfying part of my job here is not being stuck in an office," said Spc. Montrell Walker, a lightwheeled vehicle mechanic with the 13th COSCOM motor pool.
Challenges do come up, though, that aren't so cheerfully undertaken.
"The most challenging part of this job is seeing a vehicle come in here and knowing that we don't have the part or parts to fix it," Tatum said. "In that instance, we have to either go look for the part or order it. That really puts a strain on our goal of having vehicles in and out in the same day."
Most of the time, however, the mechanics do fulfill that goal, and people take notice.
"I'm very proud of my Soldiers, because of the hard work that they put in on a daily basis to keep our equipment up to [technical manual] standards," Tatum said. "All of the hard work that they do is a reflection on themselves and the 13th COSCOM."
Spc. George Garza, a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic with the Special Troops Battalion, 13th Corps Support Command motor pool, drains the gear hubs on a Humvee June 18.