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Welders get bead on life
Photo and story by 1st Sgt. David Moore, 444MPAD
TAG at Operation Jump Start

Survivability on the battlefield and in the civilian workplace is getting a boost this year courtesy of the New Jersey National Guard’s Regional Training Site-Maintenance (RTS-M) equipment upgrades at one of its Fort Dix training areas.
With the purchase of more than $500,000 worth of equipment and materials this past year, in addition to sweat equity by instructors in the post’s 5900 maintenance area, RTS-M leader¬ship personnel now want to crosswalk Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) training for Sol¬diers into civilian certification in at least one of the metal trades — welding.

”All indicators lead me to believe we can get that certification,” Maj. Robert Garvey, RTS-M commander, said. “This means a young Soldier getting the welding training can likely get a job in the world starting at $25 to $30 an hour, which is a good starting point for a career.”

To make that happen, Garvey submitted an application for graduates of the welding course to become members of the American Welders Society. The RTS-M runs about 60 courses a year at the Joint Training and Training Development Center and the 5900 area.

Two of the MOS courses, Metal Worker (44B) and Machinist (44E), are getting trained inside two of the five buildings that look more like a laboratory than a dimly lit workshop.
Since the Global War on Terrorism began in 2001, about 2,000 military personnel honed skills now coveted on the battlefield when it comes to welding up-armor vehicles and making repair parts.

"The welding shop can now train up to 12 students at a time, each having his or her own work area that has welding equipment for each student," said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Altieri, senior instructor at the RTS-M who has been teaching the 44B course for 11 years.

Altieri, who designed the classroom work stations, said he has the capability to double the class occupancy. Addi¬tional workbenches can be moved into place. Since many of the components of the shop have swing-arm capabilities, work areas can be shared by additional students.

Refurbishing new equipment has also seen growth in training in the 5900 area, where the number of students grew from 465 students in fiscal year 2006, to 669 the following fiscal year.

The refurbishing of five buildings in the 5900 area began in
October 2005. Cleaning, sandblasting, and painting inside and out was completed by 24 Soldiers of the instructor staff, including the commander. Cost estimates associated with the sweat-equity put into the project are 9,000 hours of labor using $44,883 in materials. The existing staff doing the work saved about $225,000 in labor costs.

Staff Sgt. Emilio Namuco, a Regional Training Site-Maintenance instructor of the 44B Army Welding Course, prepares stock used for the course being given to Soldiers going for the welding job specialty at Fort Dix.

“If they weren’t at the podium teaching, they were fixing bay doors, or swinging a roller and a brush,” Altieri said.
As a part of the refurbishment project, new digital milling and lathe equipment is also being added. As the Army continues through transformation and pushing the edge of technology, some of the recently arrived computer numerical-controlled equipment may someday be able to beam machine configuration signals from major commands such as Tank Automotive and Armaments Command to a satellite and on to the machines, a system that would save time and hours.

Altieri, who has designed protective armor plating for military vehicles and has seen Navy Seabees and Marines attend his welding courses, said he receives e-mail and letters from personnel who have attended school in the 5900 area and are serving in Iraq or got a great-paying job as a civilian.

”I get e-mails all the time from Soldiers. They tell me what they learned here as welders or machinists is certainly important to save lives on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghani¬stan. Then, I hear from some of them when they return to the civilian world, and they tell me they have a great job, making more money then me and they’re buying a home,” Altieri said.

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Volume 33 Number 2 Staff / Information
(c) 2006 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs