SKWIERZYNA, Poland –
NOTE: This is the first in a 10-part series on the 652nd Regional Support Group, out of Helena, Montana. The unit arrived in Poland on Sept. 26 to begin a mobilization, where they will be the first Army Reserve unit responsible for the operations of 10 base camps throughout the country. The series breaks down what teams do at each base camp.
With streets lined with perfectly-cut and placed stones, long brick buildings with heavy swinging doors, and lofty trees that have obviously been growing for decades, it is hard to deny that the base on Skwierzyna, Poland, is a beautiful place.
“Coming here was kind of surreal for me,” said 2nd Lt. Jalen Brown, a transportation officer from New Orleans, Louisiana. “It was weird, when we pulled up to the gates here, I kind of paused and I looked out at the cobblestone streets, and the cobblestone walls, and some of the infrastructure that may have been here since the ‘40s, I was like, wow, this place has been here for a while.”
The base may be aesthetically beautiful, but it has a somewhat dark history, having been constructed in World War II by the German Army. Skwierzyna, located in northeastern Poland, about two hours west of Berlin and with Poznan, Poland, about two and a half hours to the east, is home to both United States and Polish forces. It is here that the Mayor’s Cell team of four Soldiers from the 652nd Regional Support Group provides basic life support and comfort and morale items to the Soldiers.
The team is made up of Brown, who serves as base mayor, Sgt. 1st Class Scott Maurer, an ammunition noncommissioned officer from Belgrade, Montana, who serves as base deputy mayor, Sgt. 1st Class David Winkowitsch, a maintenance noncommissioned officer from Cut Bank, Montana, the team’s Administrative Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, and Sgt. Nathan Clayton, a human resources noncommissioned officer from Greenville, South Carolina.
The team has unified to make numerous improvements in their nearly two-months since arriving at Skwierzyna. They were able to get letters of justification approved to receive both new showers and gym equipment for the base.
Clayton has taken over the restoration and improvement of the base Morale Welfare and Recreation area for American Soldiers.
“When we first got here, there was nothing set up in the room,” Clayton said. “We set up projectors and a white screen for the Soldiers to watch television and movies. We took a couch from down here and moved it up to the room so there would be better seating options for the Soldiers.”
The team also contacted the Armed Forces Network and got services set up in three locations for Soldiers to watch football and popular American television shows and procured five computers to set up a lab to allow Soldiers to communicate with love ones at home.
Clayton also tracks the work orders for repairs and other maintenance for the base, while Maurer ensures that the contractors are keeping the base running.
“My main function is to make sure the contractors here are doing their main function, keeping everything running, for the most part, keeping showers running, keeping bathrooms clean, dumpsters empty, making sure we have forklifts that function so the tenant units can move their equipment, making sure we have lights and things like that,” explained Maurer, who also maintains key control for the base.
Clayton has also worked as the community outreach coordinator for the team. He has visited a local school, the ZST IO technical school in Gorzow Wielkopolski, and worked with the Junior Reserve Officer Training program there.
The team said they were able to accomplish things due to a strong and healthy working relationship with the other units on the base, such as the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Regiment, out of Fort Hood, Texas.
The four Soldiers on the Skwierzyna team offer a blend of youth and experience. Brown, who leads the team, is serving on his first mobilization, but has a team of experienced noncommissioned officers to draw from. Winkowitsch has served a combined 34 years – or 12,410 days to be precise – between active duty, the Montana National Guard, and the Army Reserve, and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-4. He plans to retire following the mobilization. Maurer, who joined the 652nd for the mobilization from the 592nd Ordnance Company in Billings, has served 30 years, and is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. Clayton is a 12-year Army Reserve Soldier with a deployment to Afghanistan.
Each member brings a different asset to the team.
“I bring an outside approach,” Brown said. “Because I am a Reserve Soldier, it allows me to have outside thought processes, so I don’t think one way, one regulation set. I think in a variety of sets.”
Brown works at Dallas/Fort Worth airport, the fourth busiest airport in the world, and draws heavily on that experiences when dealing with contracts for the base.
“I played a part in a $34 million Federal Aviation Association contract for the airport runway, so I on the safety side of contracting, I dealt with what contractors could and could not do. With installation management, I draw on that experience daily.”
Clayton said he believes he brings an analytic and organized approached which he developed from working in the social work field. Winkowitsch brings a lot of maintenance experience, is a subject matter expert on the motor pool, and also oversees the linen program.
By combining their strengths and talents, the 652nd RSG Mayor’s Cell team members said they look forward to doing their part to improve life for the Soldiers at Skwierzyna during their remaining time in Poland.