CAMP TAJI, Iraq – With the discovery of thousands of helicopter parts, ranging from helicopter tires all the way up to transmissions and rotary blades, the technical supply section of the 640th Aviation Support Battalion has identified and inventoried millions of dollars worth of unused parts, returning them to the supply system for use.
After eight years of war, numerous units and massive amounts of military hardware have cycled through Iraq. With preparations underway for the combat theater to close down in December, the 640th ASB is playing a critical role in tracking and moving tons of Army aviation hardware out of the country.
More than $10 million in unused and unaccounted for parts have been processed since the 640th ASB arrived in country a little over two months ago, some of those parts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece, said Maj. Jeremy Johnson, the support operations officer for the 640th ASB, and a native of Brea, Calif. Parts have been found in cardboard boxes and in storage containers, primarily on Camp Taji’s airfield, Johnson said.
The 640th is a California Army National Guard aviation support battalion from Los Alamitos, Calif. It is attached to the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, which has been deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. One of the battalion’s missions is maintaining the CAB’s helicopters to keep them flying.
On March 7, the 640th ASB took over the support mission in Iraq from the 601st Aviation Support Battalion. The 640th is currently the only aviation support battalion operating in theater.
Over the past month and a half, the technical supply section of the 640th’s Bravo Company, led by Staff Sgt. Adan Reyes of Apple Valley, Calif., inventoried parts that have been recovered from storage containers at Camp Taji. Reyes had the equipment transported to his warehouse and organized what his unit could use, and sent the rest of the equipment to Kuwait or the United States to be used by other units in the future.
“We had it all trucked over to a consolidated location and we inventoried the lion's share of it,” Johnson said. “The things that we could use, we went ahead and pulled out and put on our shelves.”
Reyes and his staff took time out of their already busy work schedule and logged the equipment back into the Army’s supply system, Johnson said.
“We started off with six soldiers—three during the day and three during the night,” said Spc. John Millan, of Los Angeles, a technical specialist with Bravo Company. “With soldiers on R and R [rest and recuperation leave] and on reset [days off] days, we borrowed some staff from Alpha Company, so we probably had around 10 people for both shifts.”
“We found Chinook transmissions,” Johnson said. “The cheap ones are $650,000.” Chinook engines were also found, which can run about $800,000 or more a piece, he estimated.
During a visit to Camp Taji on April 26, Maj. Gen. Harold G. Bunch, Assistant Deputy Commanding General for Reserve Affairs, Army Materiel Command out of Fort Belvoir, Va., presented Reyes with a coin in recognition of his commitment to the general’s motto, “Accountability, Visibility and Velocity.”
With the parts found at Camp Taji logged and inventoried, the next job is to recover parts throughout Iraq. Parts are already arriving from other bases.
Plans are being made to search for even more caches of parts, Johnson said There is still more equipment worth millions to be shipped and processed by the 640th’s tech supply staff, he said.
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