Cape’s Field Maintenance Shop wins Army award

The Missouri National Guard’s Field Maintenance Shop in Cape Girardeau recently earned first place in the Department of the Army’s Award for Maintenance Excellence competition. (Photo by M. Queiser, Missouri National Guard).

The Missouri National Guard's Field Maintenance Shop in Cape Girardeau recently earned first place in the Department of the Army's Award for Maintenance Excellence competition. (Photo by M. Queiser, Missouri National Guard).

By M. Queiser
ngmo.pao@us.army.mil

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - The Missouri National Guard's Field Maintenance Shop in Cape Girardeau recently earned first place in the Department of the Army's Award for Maintenance Excellence competition.

The Army Award for Maintenance Excellence, or AAME, is a prestigious award highly sought after by Army units and maintenance shops across the country.

"This really proves we have a good shop and dedicated hard workers," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kenneth Heise, the shop's mechanic supervisor.

In 2010, the shop took second place in their region, which fueled their desire to improve this year, said Heise.

"We all agreed that we wanted to push it," said Heise. "We wanted to win it all and we did."

The Cape shop, which consists of 11 Guardsmen, competed in the small unit category. To be nominated the shop submitted an extensive nomination packet detailing maintenance missions, Soldiers' training, environmental standards, and community service.

The packet described how the Guardsmen provide field maintenance and equipment support for five units in southeast Missouri. They work on numerous types of military police and engineer vehicles, from routine services like oil changes and body work, to major repairs such as fixing or replacing transmissions or engines. They also process night vision equipment and install communications equipment such as military radios and computer tracking systems. In addition, they'll often work with other shops and units throughout the state on specific missions.

Last fall, the shop earned first place in the regional and National Guard Bureau levels. It then came down to the Cape shop and three other locations for the top award.

"It meant something to be in the top four," said 1st Sgt. Haskel Rooker. "We're a small shop that's one of the best in the country, not just our region. To get there really meant we'd done a great job."

In January representatives from the Department of the Army's evaluation team visited the shop to give a hands-on inspection.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 William Lyles and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Kitts looked at 14 different areas to validate what the shop described in their nomination packet.
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At the end of the evaluation, Lyles and Kitts were very impressed with what they found and gave a green light for each of the 14 evaluation areas.

"It didn't happen by accident," Lyles told the Soldiers. "A lot of hard work and organization was put into what you do here."

Receiving all greens was a very good sign, Lyles said, but not a gimme.

"It's like we were in the super bowl," said Spc. Chris Valentine. "It could have gone any way."

Receiving the official word this week validates all the hard work and effort the Soldiers put into the shop every day, said Rooker.

"This is our job outside of weekend drills, deployments and state emergency duties," said Rooker. "This gets to be our bragging rights."

In 2011, the shop completed 148 routine services, installed 15 radio communication systems, and completed 115 repairs and inspections.

Because of their hard work and diligence their units' equipment was nearly 100 percent ready for operation every month in 2011. This is critical if a unit is deployed overseas or for a state emergency duty.

Even though they have a smaller shop, their success is due to the focus and dedication of his 11 workers, said Heise, especially with throughout the competition five of them have been preparing to deploy this year.

One is currently in Afghanistan in support of the Agribusiness Development Team VI, another is in Honduras in support of Beyond the Horizons 2012, and three more are in training with the 1138th Engineer Sapper Company which will deploy to Afghanistan this June.

All five remained dedicated until their last day in the shop, and the remaining six really stepped up to support their fellow Guardsmen and make sure the shop continues be successful, said Rooker.

"It was a team effort on everybody's part," said Rooker. "Even though they've left, they're still a part of the shop, and they're coming home to us. Winning means everyone's efforts are being rewarded."

For all the Soldiers this is about doing their job, and doing it well into the next year.

"It's all about maintaining the standard," said Rooker. "Don't' let up. We might just put another packet in for next year and win it again. Anything's possible."

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The Missouri National Guard's Field Maintenance Shop in Cape Girardeau recently earned first place in the Department of the Army's Award for Maintenance Excellence competition. (Photo by M. Queiser, Missouri National Guard).

The Missouri National Guard's Field Maintenance Shop in Cape Girardeau recently earned first place in the Department of the Army's Award for Maintenance Excellence competition. (Photo by M. Queiser, Missouri National Guard).


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