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# 2007-08-14-8 Aug.

14, 2007


By Pfc. Michael Syner
U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs Office

DEXHEIM, Germany -- The

Soldiers and leadership of
Company C, 501st Military
Intelligence Battalion, 1st
Armored Division, have proof
they have taken better care of
their gear over the past year than
any small unit in the U.S.

The company earned bragging

rights to that distinction when it
was recently named the winner
of the Secretary of Defense
Field-level Maintenance Award
in the small unit category.
Spc. Christopher Parker of 1st Armored Division's Company C,
501st Military Intelligence Battalion performs maintenance on
The unit’s Soldiers earned the DoD award for a
one of the unit's Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles. The
year’s worth of hard work and diligent maintenance. company's maintenance program recently earned the
To get there the company first had to win in 'Comanches' the title of best small unit maintenance program in
competition at the 1st Armored Division, U.S. Army DoD.
Europe and Department of the Army levels.

“We did what we had to do to keep our equipment

working as best as it can, said Sgt. 1st Class Richard A. Basilici, 1st platoon sergeant for
Company C.

The award is designed to evaluate units of varying sizes on their ability to keep track of
unit equipment, as well as how well those items have been maintained. In the case of
Company C, this involves tracking and caring for the usual list of company items, such as
individual weapons, vehicles and chemical protective equipment. But Charlie Company
is also responsible for the care and operation of one very unique piece of gear – Shadow
unmanned aerial vehicles. Caring for the Shadow is a massive task in itself, as the
vehicles require regular and precise maintenance, Basilici said.

Still, C Company leadership says they never doubted they could prove they were number

“It was never a question of going all the way with a competition,” said Capt. John A.
Ruckauf, C Company commander. “We were just trying to accomplish the mission by
having our equipment ready to go.”

What makes the “Comanches” of C Company especially proud of their accomplishment,

unit officials said, is that about half of its members were deployed for the majority of the
last year, the period for which the unit was evaluated for the award.

“We had two platoons, as well as a few small detachments still here,” said Company C
1st Sgt. Simon T. Smith. “Everyone else was in Iraq for most of the time. We just had to
focus our time and energy to stay on top of things.”

An award such as this cannot be won with just one night of focus and hard work. The
judging committee looks over an entire year of unit operations to determine who is
worthy, meaning that the units involved have to keep their records in line, said Mario
Ambriz, a logistics management specialist for U.S. Army Europe and a member of the
Command Logistics Review Team that judges the USAREUR level of the competition.

“This program is designed to reward those units that excel at doing what they are
supposed to with their maintenance programs,” said Ambriz.

“We don’t punish those that need a little help to get their records straight. The
maintenance award program is designed to reinforce good habits and fix the bad ones,”
he added.

“We just evaluate. A lot of units think of it as an inspection, but that is not what we are
here to do.”

“It was hard keeping on top of the maintenance, but you just have to do it if it is the
mission,” Basilici said. “We were doing motor stables (vehicle maintenance) all the time,
nonstop, and the Soldiers didn’t slack off.”

“What really won this thing was philosophy,” Ruckauf said, “a philosophy that centers
around the Soldiers being able to do their jobs properly. This would not have gotten done
if it weren’t for them.”
The award wasn’t the result of one individual’s contributions, “but all the outstanding
officers, NCOs and Soldiers of ‘Comanche,’” Ruckauf said. “Their blood, sweat, and
tears paid off. This would not have gotten done if it weren’t for them.”

“The last time a USAREUR unit won the DOD Maintenance Award was back in 2002,”
Ambriz said. “This is really a big deal for us.”

The company will send seven Soldiers to Orlando, Fla. to pick up the award at the
Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards banquet, scheduled to be conducted during the
DoD Maintenance Symposium and Exhibition Nov. 13-17.