Report From Afghanistan: MPs in 484th Get-R-Done
Published: Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
The Montana Army National Guard’s Brigade Support Battalion had possession of a Zarang, a local three-wheeled motorcycle, for about a year and did not get it running.
Then, a little more than three months ago, they gave the Zarang to Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Counts of the 503rd Military Police Battalion. The battalion’s mechanics did not get it running either.
The 503rd Military Police Battalion is leaving Afghanistan, and Counts could have given the Zarang to the replacement battalion or to one of the other five companies that work under them. But no, he gave it to me, 1st Sgt. Levi Doll, and the 484th Military Police Company. He stated that the 484th, which includes members from the Glasgow, Malta and elsewhere in Montana, is the only unit he would give it to because “the 484th would get it running.”
A couple of conditions were put on the gift: The 484th had to send a video of it running and paint it green and yellow MP colors.
The night I dropped it off at our motor pool, Dec. 28, I mentioned to the mechanics I would like it running by Jan. 2. Spc. Tyler Waters said, “That’s bull, what kind of challenge is that? We need a real deadline.”
So I said, “Have it done tomorrow.” A couple of the mechanics in unison said, “That’s more like it.”
The next day, the mechanics told me they needed a spark plug and a carburetor kit and that the interpreter they talk to could not go into town till the next day, so the Zarang would not be done. I couldn’t let our mechanics fail because of some parts. I talked to our interpreter, “King,” and he agreed to try to get the parts that afternoon.
Later that evening while sitting in my office doing paperwork, what do I hear but the sound of a motorcycle and the tooting of a horn, along with laughter. Sure enough, when I walked outside the Tactical Operation Center, there was Spc. Joe Shipp driving the Zarang with Specialists Tyler Waters, Patrick Wilson and Macon Henry (all 484th mechanics) sitting in the back. Yes, the 484th mechanics did in less than 24 hours what others could not.
They did a lot more than replacing a spark plug and carburetor; the interpreter bought a whole carburetor, not a kit. They replaced fuel lines, changed out the ignition, got the electrical starter working, altered the wiring harness, upgraded the battery and fixed the tires, all while not neglecting their normal duties.
Spc. Shipp told me later, as he was working on the custom seat cover for the Zarang, that it was a team effort by all four aforementioned mechanics, under the leadership of their maintenance supervisor, Sgt. Todd Moline.
On New Year’s Day, Command Sgt. Maj. Counts got the opportunity to drive his previously owned Zarang around Combat Outpost Russian Silo. The smile on his face was priceless.
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