Moody sergeant maintains combat fleet downrange

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
While deployed, traveling outside the wire is something not usually associated with mechanics, but that is exactly what one Moody technical sergeant does on a regular basis.

Tech. Sgt. Jason Zollman, deployed from the 23rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, provides support for a fleet worth $3.2 million as a part of the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan.

"The 17 vehicles our shop maintains go outside the wire every day, so it's important to keep them in working order," said Sergeant Zollman, the PRT's vehicle operations NCO in charge. "We sometimes travel with them on the missions and provide maintenance support in case something breaks."

He supervises two mechanics and two vehicle operators, and gets to work alongside them more often than when at Moody. The team often works long days on the many vehicles, which include mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle.

"It is nonstop here and just when you think you are caught up, something else is thrown your way," said Sergeant Zollman. "A typical day starts with PT at 5:30 a.m. and when we get off depends on when the mission team returns. Once all the trucks come back, we talk to the drivers and find out if there are any new problems.

"If there are, we stay and work on them until complete," he added. "Sometimes, our days don't end until midnight or later."

The hard work put in by the sergeant earned him recognition from the Nangarhar PRT commander.

"Sergeant Zollman and his staff keeping our vehicles in superb condition offers us invaluable peace of mind," said Lt. Col. Michael Anderson. "The position he's in is intensely challenging and the 92 percent commission rate, or how many of our vehicles are mission-ready, is especially impressive considering the rough use our vehicles get.

"He has also stepped outside his lane, offering expert training and guidance to 26 service members on advanced driving and operations of the MRAPs," the colonel added. "Sergeant Zollman is working diligently to build and define the institutions that will allow Afghans to develop as a sovereign and responsible nation."

There are two Afghans who the sergeant works with on a regular basis because of their jobs as part of the motorpool.

"Our team is about half Air Force and half Army, but we also work with a couple local nationals," said Sergeant Zollman. "The experience has been eye-opening. Some of their regulations and traditions are different from the Air Force. We just take it one day at a time and learn from each other."

This dedication and willingness to learn has also earned him positive feedback from someone besides his commander.

"Jason is very dedicated and volunteering for this short-notice deployment proves his loyalty to this country and his fellow Airmen," said Senior Airman Jennifer Forsythe, his wife and 23rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer. "He really has a grasp on the whole-person concept and there isn't anything he wouldn't do for his country."

Sergeant Zollman volunteered to deploy in August 2010 so a fellow Airman could stay and deal with family issues. Although she's proud of what he's doing, Airman Forsythe recognizes the hardship involved.

"We've been married since June 2010 and he found out shortly after that he'd be deploying," said Airman Forsythe. "I am very proud of his commitment and back him 110 percent for everything he is doing. We both agree that making sacrifices for the good of this nation far outweighs the time we have to be apart."

Sergeant Zollman also agrees that time spent as part of a PRT is something to be proud of.

"Before I got the notice for this deployment, I had never heard of provincial reconstruction teams," he said. "Our teams throughout Afghanistan are helping rebuild the country, including schools, bridges, roads and many other projects. It's good for people in the U.S. to see that we are making improvements over here and helping the people of Afghanistan."

Sergeant Zollman attended three months of combat skills training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., before arriving in Afghanistan to serve there for nine months.