Everyday at 0700 you can hear the swing of a hammer or the sound of a electric saw blaring as two Soldiers continue to build infrastructure to support Charlie Batter's self sufficient attitude. SGT Borchelt and PFC Black have served in a unique role this deployment as the Battery's "Mr. Fix It" team. "We build stuff." says SGT Borchelt "Anything the Battery needs, we can build it." adds PFC Black. The pair's ability to adapt to new roles as missions continue to change is consistent with Field Artillery's role as the most adaptable branch in the Army.
So far the Mr. Fix It team has successfully built most of the floors and walls for the tents on JSS Kimel Watt. Other projects that have been completed include the building of countless IOTV holders (which is a small cross-like stand designed to hold the Soldier's body armor off of the ground), tables, benches and booths for MWR phones and computers. They also assisted in building the dinning facility, where the Soldiers ate every meal and enjoyed an occasional TV show on AFN. PFC Black says "WE did a lot of work at the JSS, mostly because it was our home and we wanted it to be comfortable.
In terms of challenges, the project that proved to be the most difficult occurred when the Iraqi Army (IA) began to occupy part of the JSS. The IA had trouble making some improvements, so the Mr. Fix It team was dispatched to teach the Iraqi Soldiers some of their skills. This included teaching some of the Iraqi Soldiers how to build an entire wall from scratch. "It took a lot of patience, but eventually they caught on," says SGT Borchelt.
Currently, the two have begun new projects with their relocation to COP Shocker with Red platoon. There list of things to do include more of the same type of projects the recently built at the JSS. They will continue to rely on their past experience to expedite the transition from a combat outpost to a place they can call home.
Blayne Allen Black is the grandson of Ray Carter of Mason, the son of Holley Black and has one brother, Garrett Black of Amarillo, Tx.