Fort McCoy News June 23, 2017

Students gain unit armorer skills

in RTS-Maintenance course

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

When Sgt. Stephani Buzar is normally on duty for the Army in the medical field, she's concerned about the health of people. As a student in the Regional Training Site (RTS)-Maintenance Unit Armorer Course, Buzar learned how to keep weapons "healthy," so to speak.

"I learned about how the different weapon systems work, about assembly and disassembly of those weapons, how to correct malfunctions, and more," said Buzar, who is with the 7407th Troop Medical Clinic of Helena, Mont.

Twelve Soldiers from units Armywide participated in the five-day, 45-hour course in early June.

Spc. Jose Rodriguez, a student in the Regional Training Site-Maintenance Unit Armorer Course with the 257th Movement Control Battalion of Gainsville, Fla., checks to make sure the barrel of an MK19 grenade launcher is clear during course operations June 7 at Fort McCoy.
Spc. Jose Rodriguez, a student in the Regional Training Site-
Maintenance Unit Armorer Course with the 257th Movement Control
Battalion of Gainsville, Fla., checks to make sure the barrel of an
MK19 grenade launcher is clear during course operations June 7 at
Fort McCoy.


Sgt. Stephani Buzar with the 7407th Troop Medical Clinic of Helena, Mont., and Sgt. 1st Class Parker Wiley with the 364th Sapper Company of Denver complete maintenance on an MK19 grenade launcher during course operations June 7.
Sgt. Stephani Buzar with the 7407th Troop Medical Clinic of Helena,
Mont., and Sgt. 1st Class Parker Wiley with the 364th Sapper
Company of Denver complete maintenance on an MK19 grenade
launcher during course operations June 7.


Spcs. Juan Agosto and Angel Sanchez with the 271st Human Resources Company, Postal Operations of Puerto Rico reassemble an MK19 grenade launcher.
Spcs. Juan Agosto and Angel Sanchez with the 271st Human
Resources Company, Postal Operations of Puerto Rico reassemble an
MK19 grenade launcher.

Course manager and instructor Sgt. Charlie Strickland said students receive an in-depth look at armorer fundamentals, such as physical security; management of a combat-arms storage facility; and all the Department of Defense and Army regulations and publications related to care, storage, and maintenance of weapons.

The course also provides performance-oriented training on administrative and technical tasks required of a unit armorer, according to the course description. Training includes inspection, assembly, disassembly, operator and organizational maintenance, ordering parts, maintenance for small arms, and turn-in procedures for direct-support maintenance.

"This course covers weapons these Soldiers will typically see within their units," Strickland said. "Plus, as they learn about the physical-security requirements that have been entrusted to them by their commander, they understand what a big responsibility they are assuming for their unit. And they also learn about troubleshooting problems (with weapons), which also is a great skill set to their unit."

Sgt. 1st Class David Fontaine with the 13th Battalion, 100th Regiment at Fort McCoy served as an additional course instructor. He said students learn about Mossberg 500 shotgun, M9, MK19, M16A4, M240, M249, and M2 weapons, and their familiarization with the weapons is crucial. "These Soldiers don't see these kinds of weapons all the time," Fontaine said.

"The best part about this course (was) being able to have the hands-on training with each weapon system," said Pfc. Vincent Nguyen with A Company, 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, of Upland, Calif.

Nguyen said the course will help him know what it takes to maintain an armory and much more. "I will also be able to teach other Soldiers how to maintain weapons and order parts," he said.

During the course, students also practice leadership by doing some teaching, Strickland said.

"This practice helps them to work better together as a group and provides some valuable leadership experience," Strickland said. "Plus, the students who come here for this course are students who want to be here. The students are the ones who make this class successful because they also learn from each other."

"If you asked me what the best parts of the course are, I'd first say it's the way (students) become instructors by giving an assigned class, and (secondly) the way the instructors are prepared for each class," said student Spc. Juan Agosto with the 271st Human Resources Company, Postal Operations of Puerto Rico. "I really had fun from day one."

Staff Sgt. Adam Belliveau with the Wisconsin National Guard's 132nd Army Band at Madison said he appreciates all the skills he's learned.

"(I learned) to diagnose the root of a (weapon) issue through symptom recognition; how to look up parts by utilizing different manuals; and received thorough knowledge on many weapon systems, which I can teach to other Soldiers," Belliveau said.

The class' teamwork-driven style is what impressed Sgt. Ana Baumgartner with the 315th Engineer Battalion Forward Support Company of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"When going back to my unit, I will definitely be able to bring back the word 'teamwork,'" Baumgartner said. "Sometimes when you don't spend enough time with each other, you forget how to work together. … And that was the best part about this class — we were learning and teaching together as a class."

After course completion, Strickland said it's safe to say the students left Fort McCoy with a healthy amount of knowledge that will help them complete their armorer duties in the future. "And that's the way it should be," he said.

RTS-Maintenance at Fort McCoy trains Soldiers from active- and reserve-component forces and is located in building 1370. For more information about RTS-Maintenance courses, call 608-388-3938.