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If you break it, we will fix it


Written by U.S. Army Spc. Luther L. Boothe Jr.
Task Force Currahee, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division

The CurraheesFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionForward Operating Base Tillman, Afghanistan – After just a few short weeks in country, mechanics from Task Force Currahee, Company S, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, have a clear understanding of their role to ensure Forward Operating Base Tillman is combat effective.

The truth of it is, when something breaks, these mechanics are the Soldiers called to fix it, said U.S. Army Pfc. Salvador Cabrales, a wheeled mechanic and native of Chula Vista, CA.

“We are a small section on a small FOB, but the three of us have all taken on the mentality that no matter what breaks, we will try to fix it for the better of those around us,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Christina M. Nelson, a quartermaster and chemical equipment repairer from Sebring, FL.

With that mentality, the young Soldiers have taken on any task asked of them regardless of their job training.

“We work on humvees, [all-terrain vehicles], Afghan supply trucks, [light-medium tactical vehicles], wreckers, [medium-mine protected vehicle], [mine resistant ambush protected all-terrain vehicles] and generators,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Michael R. Adams, a wheeled mechanic and native of Lynchburg, Tennessee. “The mechanics here pretty much work on anything that is mechanical.”

Though it is early in the deployment, the Currahees already maintain the functionality of the FOB.

“Our job is pretty critical,” said Cabrales. “We keep everything moving around here.”

The Army trained the Soldiers on specific equipment, but that has not discouraged them from taking on the task of repairing something they have never worked on or, in some cases, even seen before.

“One of the most difficult things so far is getting tasked to work on equipment I have never even seen or heard of, but I still have to fix it,” said Nelson.

Because the team is comprised of wheeled-vehicle mechanics, they usually only work on things with wheels, but in Afghanistan, that isn’t the case, said Adams. Sometimes they may not know how to fix something, but they will find the proper training manual or any other reference or instructions to make the repairs.

“We have yet to come across anything we have not been able to fix,” said Cabrales.

Even with an already large tasking, the maintenance Soldiers have all found ways to contribute to the fight beyond normal expectations.

“I have taken on the task of doing the morning refueling rounds,” said Cabrales. “It is one of the most satisfying things I do because I know what I am doing is keeping the FOB operational. And, I get to interact with the local population a little bit.”

“Last week I fixed a water heater being sent to another FOB,” said Nelson. “There is a real sense of pride and accomplishment when you know after you put hard work into something, like a water heater, that somebody at another FOB is going to get to take a hot shower out here for the first time because of what you did.”

Though they are all committed to accomplishing whatever the mission requires, there are many challenges to working in Afghanistan.

“Sometimes it has been difficult to find the right parts or manuals for the equipment that we have to fix,” said Cabrales.

The terrain has also proved to be quite the challenge, said Adams. It is really rough on the drive train of the vehicles, and 90 percent of all repairs have been a result of terrain damage.

Some of the normal conditions a mechanic might have are not what the three mechanics have currently, said Nelson. “We don’t have a concrete pad to slide a creeper underneath a vehicle, so sometimes you just have to lay on the rocks and dirt and take your bruises to get the job done.”

Having accomplished a significant amount of work already, the Currahee mechanics have discovered a sense of pride and camaraderie found only in working together for a common goal.

“I am proud to do my job and to be a part of a group that is dedicated to keeping the mission going,” said Cabrales.




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