JOINT BASE BALAD, IRAQ - A little inspiration can go a long way.
Just ask the U.S. Army Reservists of the Altoona-based 298th Support Maintenance Company.
Utilizing only spare parts, the unit's soldiers built a monster truck in three months.
Courtesy photo by Staff Sgt. Pat Caldwell
Using spare parts, local soldiers built this truck in about three months.
"Every piece of it was built out of scrap," Sgt. Andrew Collins, 25, of Altoona said.
The monster truck stands in a shop bay in a section of Joint Base Balad, a huge American air base in Iraq.
The mechanics worked on the truck during their time off or on weekends and used a junked Ford F-150 as the foundation for the vehicle, Collins said.
"It is a Ford frame and body," Collins said.
The monster truck is a testament to the 298th's expertise, Spc. Ben Arnold of Altoona said.
"It is uncanny the ability these guys have," Arnold said.
About 15 soldiers worked on the truck at various times, with a core group of eight expending the most hours on the project, Arnold said.
Staff Sgt. Charles Teeters of Alexandria, the man behind the effort, said the truck is all about teamwork.
"It is great team building," he said.
Teeters said he is not only satisfied with the final product but is also pleased with the mechanics' performance.
"I'm more proud of what they are doing," he said.
The project began as a way to pass the down time, Teeters said.
It evolved into something more.
"Then it became a passion," he said.
The project also offered plenty of learning opportunities.
Ingenuity and overcoming challenges proved to be a hallmark of the project.
As the truck began to take shape, the mechanics needed to paint it, but auto body paint shops aren't easily accessible in Iraq. They used Iraqi house paint, mixing several colors to obtain green and yellow.
The mechanics have received positive feedback for their work, Collins said.
"I put a picture of it on Facebook and I have not stopped getting comments," he said.
The truck's suspension was the most difficult part of the project, but the vehicle is nearly ready to go, Teeters said.
"We need to do some finishing touches," he said.
Once those "finishing touches" are completed, the truck will be ready for a test drive, Teeters said.
The monster truck will make this deployment memorable, Teeters said.
"And yeah, I plan on building one when I get back home," he said.
Caldwell is a combat correspondent for 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command.