When 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th ADA Brigade Soldiers arrived safely home in November of last year, a special crew of mechanics immediately found they had a daunting task at hand – set up a certified welding shop.
“Whenever we got back from Kuwait, this stuff was scattered all over the place,” Sgt. Joan Garcia, battalion welding shop noncommissioned officer-in-charge, said. “We got in here; we cleaned everything up and organized all the drawers and put like items together. In the last two months, we consolidated everything, because we are welders and we needed a job to do.”
Obtaining the permit was no easy task, requiring hours of dedicated training and hands-on classes.
Even after the training, they still had to have their site approved.
“We put everything together and then we got a pre-inspection. They told us everything that was wrong,” Garcia said. “Within a week time-frame, between the pre-inspection and the final inspection, we corrected everything: we put our signs up and we put the screens up.”
Since receiving their permits, Garcia’s team of certified fabricators, Pvt. Maxwell Niles, Spc. Victor Garcia, and Spc. Cameron Milligan, fill a vital role.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Diego Ortiz, battalion maintenance officer, knows exactly what the welding team brings to the fight
“The major impact of having certified welders within the battalion is making sure that our operational readiness stays at the highest level,” Ortiz said. “Not having to evacuate or ship work orders to another unit, being able to take care of them in house – from welding brackets on the generators for the launchers to extracting bolts on a guided missile transporter – this significantly reduces the time we wait for either a new part to come in or for somebody else to be able to take care of it for us.”
This self-sufficiency will greatly decrease operational downtime. A simple bracket will only take the welding team a day or two to fix, whereas before, they would have had to wait up to 30 days to receive the part.
With newly acquired skills in such high demand, Garcia is optimistic about their ability to accomplish their tasks.
“Every day we are all learning off of each other. I enjoy working with them because they are very open-minded.
We work together to work the problems out,” Garcia said.
“Maintenance is something that is not really emphasized or talked about until you need it,” said Ortiz. “These guys are behind the scenes every day, making sure they get things done without anyone else knowing or without receiving any sort of recognition.
They’re not here for that, and that speaks volumes of them. They’re here to do a job, regardless of whether they get the recognition or not, because they are professionals.”