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Mechanics: Keeping U.S. troops moving

Multinational Division Baghdad mechanics in the motor pools have an important job for the success of the overall mission in Iraq. They ensure every vehicle leaving the base for a mission is in top working order, is safe and is going to be a reliable ride if something bad were to happen.

Army Pfc. Jacob Gilmon, a Leander, Texas, native, serves as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic with the 4th Infantry Division’s Headquarters Support Company, Special Troops Battalion.

On a daily basis, he works hard to ensure every vehicle he checks is going to be safe and mission-ready before it leaves the motor pool. He wakes up each morning, hits the gym and prepares himself for the long day ahead.

Because the soldiers working in the motor pool have a 12-hour work day, Gilmon said, they try to take care of the things not related to work right away in the morning before they even get to the garage. Once he starts working, he said, it’s usually a full day of hard work, which ranges from rechecking maintenance work on the vehicles to disassembling the entire front end of a Humvee just to change out one panel.

“We usually have trucks come through in the morning right away for [quality assurance and quality control] checks before they’re dispatched; then, it’s really a matter of fixing things as they come in,” Gilmon said.

In quality assurance and quality control checks, the mechanics check the fluids and ensure there are no defects on the vehicle that would pose a danger or cause a failure while the operators are out on mission, the soldier explained.

When he’s not fixing immediate problems with vehicles, Gilmon said, he spends a lot of time fabricating various vehicle parts. Because he’s a good welder, he said, he spends a lot of time building covers for wire conduits in mine-Resistant, ambush-protected vehicles.

“When it gets to that part of my job, it gets a little too repetitious,” he admitted. “But for the most part, not every day is the same, which makes life more interesting.”

Gilmon’s hard work and willingness to do whatever it takes to get vehicles in, fixed and back out on the road as fast as possible has not been overlooked by the soldiers who are above him in the chain of command.

“Gilmon is a good soldier,” said Sgt. Timothy Smith, a Meeker, Okla., native who serves as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic and recovery specialist with the 4th infantry Division’s Headquarters Support Company, Special Troops Battalion. “He is always willing to do whatever it takes to get our mission accomplished and get these vehicles out of here and in the fight as quickly as he can.”

On top of Gilmon’s willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission, Smith added, he is impressed with how quickly he and the rest of his crew have learned how things are done in the shop.

After work, Gilmon said, he is so exhausted he generally just goes to bed. Every now and then, he’ll throw a movie into his DVD player or play some video games, but the experience is usually shortly lived.

“I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually seen the end of a movie,” he said. “I usually pass out right after putting it in.”

Other than the occasional partial movie, Gilmon said, he enjoys talking with his wife, his 7-year-old daughter and his 6-year-old son back in Texas.

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