FORT MCCOY, WI. –
Turning wrenches may not sound like a glamorous Army Reserve job, but for units that depend on well-tuned vehicles and equipment to perform their mission, the greasy mechanic deserves credit.
Nearly two dozen Army Reserve mechanics from the 322nd Support Maintenance Company, Arden Hills, Minn., are completing their Annual Training (AT) at the 88th Readiness Division Draw Yard here getting on-the-job training in a program called Platinum Support. The Army Reserve mechanics are providing real-time services for units participating in Combat Support Training Exercise 93-03 and 93-04. When they leave for home, they’ll be followed by a new team of mechanics from their unit.
Platinum Support gives maintenance and supply Soldiers the opportunity to perform hands-on maintenance and repair of equipment and vehicles to generate and regenerate combat power and preserve the capital investment of Army Combat Systems and equipment. Army Reserve Soldiers enhance their technical skills while working on real-world missions. This year, Platinum Support runs from July 14 to Aug. 13 and involves about 60 Army Reserve Soldiers.
Spec. Benjamin Larson, Eden Prairie, Minn., is a 91B wheeled vehicle mechanic working in Platinum Support. He joined the Army Reserve two years ago to obtain student loan repayment for his studies in business administration at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. “I also joined the Army Reserve because I eventually want to join the Active Army, and I saw the Army Reserve as an introduction to the Army,” he said.
The university sophomore chose 91B as his MOS because “I worked in shops during high school and I thought it would be a good fit,” he said.
For Larson, the camaraderie with the guys is what he likes the most about his job, and “I like turning wrenches,” he said. “I love AT. I like to get in depth with my MOS.” He noted that a lot of the work is computerized and “easy to pick up.”
Along with his colleagues, Larson performs annual services on vehicles and was recently working on a fuel injector pump for a Humvee, which he found challenging. He appreciates the behind-the-scenes role he plays in getting “vehicles back into shape to go right back out to units” training at Fort McCoy so they can achieve their mission.
Spec. Md Arifur Rahman, Mounds View, Minn., another Army Reserve Soldier involved in Platinum Support is a 91D generator mechanic. He joined the Army Reserve to gain U.S. citizenship. “My second reason for joining the Army Reserve is to explore the Army. It’s the best in the world and I wanted to be part of that and learn,” he said.
Rahman is not your typical mechanic. He has a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He works as an electrical engineer in his civilian career. “I really like working with electrics; it’s what I’m good at,” he said. “I like to use my head and troubleshoot. I like to figure out problems. I enjoy the challenge,” he said.
During Platinum Support, Rahman can be found going out to the training sites to repair equipment on the ground, like the Multi-Temperature Refrigeration and Cooling System (MTRCS) that stores food to feed troops in the field. No refrigeration means spoiled food which means increased costs to replace the food. Rahman found the MTRCSs the most challenging to work on since he had never seen one before.
Keeping the work and parts flowing in the maintenance bay is Matt Clancy, maintenance coordinator lead at the Draw Yard. He finds the work being done by the Army Reserve mechanics as an “extremely valuable” adjunct in picking up services, as his normal complement of civilian mechanics is fully engaged prepping for the CSTXs.
Draw Yard Officer in Charge Maj. Michael Zinnecker noted that the Army Reserve mechanics have so far done five recovery missions for the CSTXs and repaired six MTRCSs, with more to be completed in the coming days. He also describes their work as “invaluable” to ensuring unit readiness.