Operation Jiffy Lube keeps vehicles moving
Story and photos by Spc. John Stimac
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Two units from opposite ends of the U.S. join together in Iraq to help convoys roll out of Joint Base Balad, Iraq faster, by making minor repairs to M1151 and Mine-Resistant-Ambush-Protected vehicles that would otherwise delay their departure.
Operation Jiffy Lube, a combined effort between the 514th Support Maintenance Company, out of Fort Drum, N.Y., and the 699th Maintenance Company, out of Fort Irwin, Calif., is the informal name of the units’ new mission, which started as an evenings-only program roughly three weeks ago.
Staff Sgt. Jonathon Fields, with the 699th, said the idea came about during a meeting with all key leaders of the company.
“Everyone was involved with this, from the company commander to the first sergeant, and everybody has been behind our idea,” Fields said.
Second Lt. Jess Henry, with the 514th, said the units’ main focus is to do quick-fix repairs for convoys coming through, and assigned to, JBB.
“The name came about because we work on small repairs and do quick fixes that don’t take a lot of time on the vehicles,” he said. “The 699th Maintenance Company and the 514th Support Maintenance Company are working together on this. The 699th is on site and the 514th is back at the repair site. You can really see the cohesion of the two units coming together.”
In the few weeks since its inception, business has been steadily increasing, said Fields.
“We have put up flyers around JBB to get the word out and when someone comes for maintenance, the Soldiers jump right on it to get the vehicle fixed,” Fields said.
The units focus on fixing vehicles that would otherwise delay the starting time of a convoy when they are sent to a repair yard for minor maintenance.
“Our focus is to keep the Warfighters moving with a minimum loss of downtime," said Fields.
Spc. Doyle Zornes, a wheeled-vehicle mechanic with the 699th and a Red Bluff, Calif. native, said convoys come from JBB, as well as other contingency operating locations.
“The units have found out we are here and we have been able to make their repairs on the spot,” said Zornes.
Spc. Johnny Lowder, also with the 699th, and a Detroit native, said the team performs maintenance on the M1151 and MRAP vehicles only, but in its first few weeks, Operation Jiffy Lube is already building success stories.
“About two weeks ago, a vehicle came in for some electrical problems,” said Lowder. “The doors wouldn’t close – we got them going in 25 minutes and they were on time to go out with their convoy.”
The work is not going unnoticed by others.
Spc. Valerie Callaway, with the 720th Convoy Security Company, out of Contingency Operating Location Adder in Talil, Iraq, said the Soldiers are doing a great job.
“My vehicle was fixed right away,” said Callaway. “They actually took the lights off one of their own vehicles and put it on ours to get us going.”
Due to the current success of Operation Jiffy Lube, the units started performing the same services during the day, starting Aug. 24.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to provide the same kind of service and help these convoys out,” said Fields.
Pvt. Frank Rosales Jr., with the 699th Maintenance Company, out of Fort Irwin, Calif., and a Los Angeles native, performs preventative maintenance checks and services on an M1151 vehicle. Rosales is a member of the Operation Jiffy Lube team on Joint Base Balad.