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NEWS | May 30, 2023

Army Reserve Soldiers travel more than 2,000 miles to train with Fort Leonard Wood subject matter experts

By Melissa Buckley Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office

Army Reserve Soldiers with the 276th Support Maintenance Company, out of Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, are gaining on-the-job experience at their military occupational specialties with Fort Leonard Wood’s Fleet Management Expansion Directorate, as part of a U.S. Army Materiel Command initiative called Operation Patriot Press.

The initiative links Army Reserve and National Guard units to real-world missions during mandatory annual training periods to better support the Army’s overall strategic objectives, said 2nd Lt. Luis Perez Andujar, executive officer for the Reserve unit.

“The reality is we don’t do this 24/7,” Perez Andujar said. “We don’t have the facilities back home that Fort Leonard Wood has here, so this maximizes our two-week training requirement.”

According to Donald Ungerecht, FMX support operations manager, the FMX is part of the Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command that supports the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command schools on the installation. The FMX has three divisions, the Engineer Support Division, Maintenance Support Division and Weapons and Specialty Support Division.

“We have Soldiers from the 276th Support Maintenance Company supporting missions in all three of our divisions. We place the Soldiers in divisions based on their MOS, but also take into consideration any specific training need that the 276th leadership requests,” Ungerecht said. “With the diverse fleet of equipment we support here at Fort Leonard Wood, we have the flexibility to provide their Soldiers with the opportunity to work on vehicles they do not get to see back at their units.”

Perez Andujar agreed.

“They have equipment here we don’t have in our unit — but they might see if we are called to deploy,” Perez Andujar said.

Perez Andujar has been a Reserve Soldier for 12 years. He said he spent most of that time as an enlisted Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic and Small Arms/Artillery Repairer before being commissioned as an officer last year.

“I have been a part of this unit for eight years. Operation Patriot Press is the first time I have seen all these MOSs be able to physically train at this level. I appreciate the civilians here and the expertise they are sharing with us,” he said. “Operation Patriot Press allows Soldiers to train with subject matter experts that do this daily.”

According to Ungerecht, Fort Leonard Wood’s FMX civilians are currently training 11 different MOSs from the 276th SMC. These include Wheeled Vehicle Mechanics, Utilities Equipment Repairers, Tactical Power Generation Specialists, Allied Trades Specialists, Small Arms/Artillery Repairers, Quartermaster and Chemical Equipment Repairers, Construction Equipment Repairers, Automated Logistical Specialists, Unit Supply Specialists, Radio Equipment Repairers and Computer/Detection Systems Repairers.

Spc. Angelica Del Valle Berrios is an Automated Logistical Specialist with the 276th SMC. She said her time on Fort Leonard Wood is valuable to her because a lot of the tasks she is performing are things she hasn’t trained on since graduating from advanced individual training.

“I will only have two years (time in service) this August, so I don’t have that much time in,” Del Valle Berrios said. “The hands-on, real-life experience is critical. In AIT, we learned the basics; here, we are applying it to real life.”

When Del Valle Berrios isn’t in uniform, she is going to school to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. As part of her service commitment to the Army Reserve, she is required to spend at least one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year in training. Del Valle Berrios said she is glad to be here for training.

“I have learned a lot about my MOS since being here,” she said. “I have been working with the Army civilians here that are Automated Logistical Specialists. So far, we have been doing hands-on dispatching, and picking-up and turning-in goods at the Supply Support Activity.”

Del Valle Berrios said the FMX civilians training her have been patient with her and she feels like she is helping them in return, “because they have a lot of work and we are able to be an extra set of hands to support them.”

Ungerecht said this is the perfect time for the FMX to have additional manpower.

“I think the best thing about this program is that both organizations benefit by participating in Operation Patriot Press. The Soldiers get hands-on training to master their MOS skills with civilian mechanics that have years of experience of working with this equipment to share, while FMX gets additional manpower at a time when we are preparing for the increased training load that takes place every summer,” Ungerecht said. “The AMC has done a great job of aligning the training needs of the Reserve component Soldiers with mission requirements of organizations.”

Del Valle Berrios said Operation Patriot Press has boosted her confidence in her own ability to perform her MOS.

“If we have to deploy, I know I have the knowledge and practice I need to be successful,” she said.

Missouri’s spring weather has been a bonus as well, Del Valle Berrios said.

“I have never been to Missouri before. I like it. It is so hot in Puerto Rico right now, so it is good to be here. This is my favorite weather,” she said.