Soldiers use craftsmanship to make functional equipment in the field

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006

101st Combat Aviation Brigade

Kirkuk, Iraq – No matter what is needed in 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, it seems as if E Troop is there to provide it, even if it means making it.

“They love it, especially the welders,” Company E 1st. Sgt. John Hendricks said. “They get to be creative, and you wouldn’t believe the things these soldiers make.”

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Spc. Nicole Brummund, E Troop, 2-17 Cav, a native of St. Paul, Minn., and the troop’s only welder by Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), came up with a design for some turrets with two other Soldiers, Pvt. Josh Brady of Selma and Sgt. Gary Cheeseman, of Trenton, N.J. They used the two doors from two High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) as the sides of the turret, and welded to other steel pieces to make movable .50 caliber machine gun turrets for up-armored HMMWVs and Light Medium Tactical vehicles for use in convoy ops. Once the design was complete, Brummund said it took them about a day and a half to make each turret.

The Troopers considered many things during the design process and decided on using HMMWV doors so that the gunners would still have visibility through the up-armored windows while remaining at eye-ball defilade when scanning their sectors and gunning.

“I never expected to be able to create these many things,” Brummund said. “It’s a lot of fun and I stay busy as long as my welder is operational.”

The Soldiers craftiness did not end with the turrets. They also constructed a ramp for the back of a Palletized Loading System (PLS) flat-rack, which is one of the vehicles used by the Downed Aircraft Recovery Team (DART). The ramp can be lowered when the bed is raised in order to allow vehicles to be driven or recovered onto the back quickly. Additionally, the welders have been able to make modifications to some of the vehicles they maintain. The troop is responsible for maintaining all of the squadron’s vehicles, plus 20 of the vehicles of the infantry company attached to 2-17 Cav, Company C, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment “Cold Steel.” On some of their vehicles they added platforms so Soldiers could scale walls on operations. The Troopers have also made flagpoles and guide-on holders, as well as, welding, of course, spurs for their Cav boots.

“I enjoy it, being one of the few and far between female welders,” Brummund said. “It’s fun to make things and I get to meet a lot of different people. But what I really like is the history behind the Cav, it’s really something different and special.”

Some of the Soldiers ideas may be adopted by higher levels. Spc. Nicholas Lenahan, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., recently made modifications to the Warlock LX systems inside vehicles. Usually these systems sit in the passenger seat, in a tight area where the radios are mounted. The Troopers created a system where the systems are moved to one of the rear passenger seats areas and mounted there where there is more room and more functionality. Then, so as to allow the machine gunners more space, they raised the platform in the back. Now, Troopers can monitor these systems more efficiently and maximize the available space in the vehicle. Representatives from Electronic Warfare (Warlock LX) company have been impressed with the changes and the design, which the Cav has proven effective through combat convoy operations in theatre this deployment, is being considered for adoption division wide.

“This frees up a lot of space around the Track Commander (TC) or assistant driver, so he doesn’t get as much of a “sensory overload” with all this equipment around him,” Capt. Mike Rasco, of Birmingham, Ala., E Troop’s commander said. “I am proud of our Troopers, they have taken it upon themselves to do a lot of good things. I’d put my welders up against any in the division.”

The ability to adapt and make things work is a necessity when deployed and Hendricks said his Soldiers continue to surprise him.

“I’ve got some tremendous troopers,” he said.