Recovery supports convoys during travel
Story and photos by U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Twist
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE TAJI, Iraq — Recovery Soldiers travel with convoys throughout Iraq, supporting units should vehicles break down during their mission.
The Soldiers of the 3666th Support Maintenance Company recovery team out of Phoenix, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), rely on vital communications equipment to do their jobs and keep vehicles moving.
Cpl. Tony R. Sanchez, the truck commander on the wrecker recovery team with the 3666th SMC and a Phoenix native, said he makes sure all communications work prior to leaving for any mission.
"Our equipment has to be working," said Sanchez. "That equipment could (save) either your life or your (truck commander's) life."
Sgt. James V. Locke, a ground radio repairman with the 3666th SMC and a Gilbert, Ariz., native, said it is his job to make sure all equipment is ready for recovery when leaving for missions.
"I do routine testing and very simple maintenance," he said. "I check the systems three times before they leave."
These checks are necessary because the vehicles bounce on rough roads, and the systems can come loose at times.
Staff Sgt. John W. Haro, the recovery operations noncommissioned officer in charge with the 3666th SMC and a Mesa, Ariz., native, said the team's job is to provide recovery support for logistics convoys so food, mail and other supplies make it to Soldiers throughout Iraq.
"Everything that we need has to move by air or by truck," said Haro.
Spc. Jerry E. Howe, a driver with the 3666th SMC recovery team and a Peoria, Ariz., native, said if vehicles break down during a convoy, they try to fix them on the spot. Flat tires, hoses and wires can be fixed quickly, but if a problem occurs that cannot, they hook the vehicle up and tow it to its final destination.
"You have to stay on your toes," said Howe.
Haro said their mission is of the upmost importance because, without them, vehicles could become stuck in Iraqi traffic or at checkpoints and face the dangers of improvised explosive devices.
"We have performed 131 missions with no accidents," he said. "My Soldiers have been exposed to IED explosions, small arms fire, and have come away with minor injuries. These guys have gone out there and have towed (heavy equipment transport) systems, they have towed (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles), they've towed just about every type of truck that is out there on the convoys and they've done it quickly, efficiently and have received praise from several convoy commanders."
Spc. Jerry E. Howe, a driver with the 3666th Support Maintenance Company recovery team out of Phoenix, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Peoria, Ariz., native, performs preventive maintenance checks and services before a mission March 20 at Contingency Operating Base Taji, Iraq. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Ryan Twist)