Missouri Guardsmen turn wrenches while training in Iowa

Troubleshooting the hydraulics of a trailer, Spc. Jimmy Jackman, of Newburg, climbs atop a medium tactical vehicle wrecker. While at the National Maintenance Training Center at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa, Guardsmen with Company B, 311th Brigade Support Battalion from Fulton spent two weeks maintaining various equipment while becoming more proficient at their trade. (Photo by Jennifer Archdekin/Missouri National Guard)


By Jennifer Archdekin

JOHNSTON, Iowa - During their two-week annual training, Citizen-Soldiers with Company B, 311th Brigade Support Battalion were able to have an active-duty experience while at the National Maintenance Training Center at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa.

The Fulton-based unit provides equipment and vehicle maintenance in support of their battalion and received quality instruction from the training center, which is fully centered on educating troops in the technical and tactical logistics fields.

Sgt. 1st Class Katie Kempker, maintenance control noncommissioned officer, said her unit was given much than just space to conduct routine servicing. Her team actually took over the reins.

"Our mission was to run this shop for two weeks," said Kempker.

The unit did just that. While at the training site, over 70 Guardsmen with the unit opened 49 new work orders on various pieces of equipment and completed at least 50 work orders on everything from generators to humvees to howitzer canons in only eight days.

While it is standard for the company to perform basic maintenance on their own vehicles and equipment during training, these maintainers were further challenged with more difficult and involved projects.

"We spent the last two weeks pulling in the hardest jobs and learning from them," said 2nd Lt. Alexander Patrick, maintenance control officer.

While turning wrenches, the Soldiers serviced equipment they rarely see, much less have the opportunity to work on, such as bulldozers and uparmored vehicles.

"Since we don't get to see it on the day-to-day we tried to make sure we saw it as many times as possible here," said Patrick. "While we have [uparmored vehicles], considering they're one of the most mission-essential items in theater, we try to get as much time on them as we can."

Patrick said his maintainers are familiar with all of the equipment, but the more time spent handling it the more comfortable and knowledgeable the Soldiers become. If deployed they would be expected to work on anything that comes their way. He said the Soldiers may not walk away as experts on the new vehicles, but they are much more familiar with them now.

With instructors on site offering hands-on teaching, Kempker said the environment at the training was ideal.

"It's great because of the tools and facilities we have to work in," said Kempker. "It's given us an active duty experience. We are in this environment and coming to work every day. We don't get this much hands-on training during a weekend drill."

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