March 18th, 2007 05:38 EST
Soldiers add, replace armor on vehicles
LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA " In a place that feels as hot as the sun, one unit is turning up the heat to ensure the safety of soldiers on the road.
"Our mission is repairing battle damaged armored security vehicles and adding armor to other support vehicles," said Sgt. Jonathan Zimmerman, 758th Maintenance Company, Skunk Werks foreman. "We do anything to keep soldiers safe."
Skunk Werks, the name given to the metal shop the soldiers work in, has been known by that name since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"We are not sure where the name came from, but we wanted to keep the tradition going so we kept the name the same," Zimmerman said.
He said the soldiers in the metal shop build nearly anything needed by servicemembers for their missions.
"We build turrets and any other armor soldiers need for their vehicles to complete a mission outside the wire," he said.
Out of the seven servicemembers in the shop, only two soldiers actually specialize in this military occupational specialty, but this does not stop the mission from being completed.
"These guys can work magic with metal," said Capt. Taylor Jones III, 758th Maintenance Company commander. "Their level of expertise is incredible."
Many of the soldiers had past experience in metal works and they volunteered to work in the shop, Zimmerman said.
"This is one of the advantages of being a Reserve soldier," he said.
"Many of us work in one profession as a soldier and a totally different one as a civilian. This gives us a little more flexibility when it comes to certain missions."
Zimmerman said with the guidance of Staff Sgt. Keith Sell, Skunk Werks noncommissioned officer in charge, they have been able to complete projects.
"Staff Sgt. Sell has helped keep us on track, he distributes the workload and makes sure soldiers are working areas that use their strongest attributes," he said.
Mission success is thanks to the soldier`s work ethic and attitude, Zimmerman said.
"The long hours and hard work of the soldiers in the shop is the reason the mission is completed," he said.
Zimmerman said the best feeling is seeing soldiers that have been saved by the additional armor they add to the vehicles.
"We have had a few soldiers come back and tell us stories about how the armor we installed saved them during a mission," he said. "It feels good to hear that our work is saving lives."
The metal shop also builds custom accessories for the armored vehicles in their fleet.
"We are currently building bumpers for our vehicles as well as custom projects for engineer vehicles to make them safer," Zimmerman said.
Whatever the soldiers in Skunk Werks are doing, they know it is affecting the lives of servicemembers across Iraq.
"Some soldiers build the bumpers, others repair and rebuild armor," Zimmerman said. "But every soldier in the shop has the same mission ... help bring our soldiers back safe."
By Sgt. Kevin McSwain
Public Affairs Office, Camp Victory