Army of one

Photo by Abby Morris Members of the 776th Maintenance Company stand in morning formation before beginning the day at Fort Campbell..

776th prepares other units for mobilization

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- In the early morning hours at Fort Campbell, the sounds of cadence can be heard, and that is just the beginning of a day's work for members of the 776th Maintenance Company.
Soldiers fall out for physical training at 6:30 a.m. and spend approximately an hour doing a variety of stretches, pushups and jumping jacks before completing a morning run. After PT, members don their uniforms and fall into morning formation to receive the day's announcements and orders.
The 776th is on a dual purpose mission at Fort Campbell, according to Col. Malcolm Atkins of the 3397th Garrison Support Unit, which the 776th serves under. That mission, according to Atkins, is to help units which are assigned to mobilize and demobilize at Fort Campbell to prepare for their next assignment.
The other portion of that mission is to support Fort Campbell in the absence of active duty personnel who have been deployed overseas. Currently, this is the focus for members of the 776th as well as other military units included in the 3397th GSU.
Taking up where active duty members of the military formerly stationed at Fort Campbell left off is one of the main duties of the 3397th Garrison Support Brigade, Atkins said. When soldiers who were called to service left the base, they left behind not only families but also important duties.
"(The 3397th GSU) has all of the main specialties to operate the augmentation support for Fort Campbell and to run Fort Campbell as a mobilization and demobilization point," Atkins said. "With this one unit, we have the specialists necessary to come in and run this operation, and that is important because many of these functions were done by active duty personnel."
In addition to keeping the base running to support soldiers still stationed at Fort Campbell, the 3397th GSU also assists in running support services for families of soldiers who have been deployed.
"Our main focus was maintenance when we first got here, but since then, we've been helping out in other areas maintaining the post," said Chief Warrant Officer Jesse Sutherland of the 776th. "It's been a challenge at times because sometimes we do not know what we'll be doing the next day."
According to Sgt. Jimmy Bennett of the company, one duty is to make sure operations at the base remain in proper working order. "We do preventive maintenance inspections on all of our equipment once a week," said Bennett, who leads a Mobile Support Team. "We try to do the repairs ourselves instead of sending it to the shop. It gives our people training and keeps us busy."
When the company first arrived at the post, members were extremely busy helping military units prepare to mobilize to be sent to the Persian Gulf; however, since then, things have slowed down, Bennett said. "When we first got here, we worked without any time off for two months," he said, adding that members of the company had to work in harsh weather conditions such as cold and ice. "We're proud to be able to be here to serve."
Other members of the company were also busy with work during the first few months after the company arrived at Fort Campbell. According to SSG Joe Bowers, who works with a team that repairs and inspects weapons and electronic equipment, members of his team worked 12 and 14-hour shifts when they first arrived at the post, and they also worked without time off for three solid months.
"We work on everything from pistols to the Howitzers and even some of the tank barrels," Bowers said.
During weapons inspections for units mobilizing through Fort Campbell, members of Bower's team had to discard approximately 2,500 pounds of rifle barrels which were not properly functioning and replace them with new barrels.
Work for Bower's team has since slowed down. "We've had three units come through in the last couple of months," he said.