Guardians - best in the Pacific

by Capt. Jonathon Daniell
U.S. Army

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea - They recover, they resupply, they repair - and they are the best in the Pacific.

E Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, was named the top medium-sized maintenance company for all U.S. Army Pacific in the annual U.S. Army Award for Maintenance Excellence competition.

Despite their placement in the medium-sized category, their output suggests otherwise, as they've built a reputation as the go-to maintenance company for tenant units at Camp Carroll, South Korea.

"Organically we support seven units across the southern region for 2-1 ADA Battalion," said 1st Lt. Jackson P. Yates, executive officer for E Co, 2-1 ADA Battalion. "However, we've built some great relationships at Camp Carroll, so on any given day, we work with 11 different units in some capacity."

The decision to compete for the AAME started with the leadership, but the shot at excellence resonated with every Soldier in the formation.

"The Patriot batteries go through gunnery tables to demonstrate their proficiency and readiness," said Yates. "We don't have that, so collectively we decided the easiest way to showcase our level of expertise was the AAME competition."

Their hard work and professionalism paid dividends when Eighth Army selected E Company, 2-1 ADA Battalion, to represent the three-star headquarters in the USARPAC contest.

According to multiple Soldiers, they weren't surprised when they won.

"We have great leadership and everyone works really hard," said Sgt. Jorge Melendez, a generator mechanic with E Co, 2-1 ADA Battalion. "When we found out we won, it felt like all our hard work paid off. I'm proud to be part of this team."

Instead of basking in their spoils from the Eighth Army title, they reevaluated every process, edited every standard operating procedure, and rehearsed duties and responsibilities with every Soldier. Their commitment to excellence impressed the evaluators from USARPAC and once again they won the top unit in their category.

Now with their accolades behind them, E Co continues to rehearse and train on their mission essential tasks to maintain peak performance.

During their Feb. 13-14 field training exercise at Camp Carroll, South Korea, they conducted vehicle recovery operations, logistical resupply operations and intermediate maintenance, further validating their bragging rights as best in the Pacific.

"Every day these Soldiers do amazing things," said Capt. Terence K. Ngoh, company commander for E Co, 2-1 ADA Battalion. "Everyone in the formation truly cares and that is what separates us from every other unit. These Soldiers want to be the best in the Army."

Most Soldiers only serve a one year tour in South Korea, meaning most won't have the opportunity to compete again for E Co, 2-1 ADA Battalion.

Yates acknowledged high personnel turnover as one of the biggest challenges for the unit.

"We're no different than any other unit in Korea, personnel turnover is challenging," said Yates. "However, we've developed great continuity products, our NCOs do a great job training and mentoring new Soldiers, and our leadership is very supportive. I'm confident we will be competing again at the theater level."

The Army Award for Maintenance Excellence was established in 1982 by the Department of the Army to incentivize units to establish exceptional maintenance programs.

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