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Chambersburg men assist in Bosnia

August 31, 2000

Chambersburg men assist in Bosnia



CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Letterkenny Army Depot employees Ron Blansit and John Buterbaugh, both Chambersburg, Pa., residents, spent more than a month this spring working to support U.S. servicemen and women in Bosnia.

Their mission was to perform modifications to the TOW Missile system mounted on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. These modifications consist of a nearly complete teardown and reassembly of the armament control unit, software and hardware modifications to the missile guidance set, and a hardware modification to the Launcher along with optics adjustments to the sight assembly. Long before the pair saw their first TOW, preparations began.

Joined by Ray Sims, a representative of U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) from Redstone Arsenal, Ala., they first headed to Fort Benning, Ga., for a week of training to prepare for the Bosnian trip. The training is necessary to familiarize the teams with situations they would encounter during the Balkan operations. They prepared by securing necessary gear and getting medical screening. Then, it was time to pick up a gas mask and learn how to wear and use it if necessary. That was followed by land mine awareness training, and driver training.

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In mid-May the team left Ramstein Airbase, Germany, aboard a C-130 bound for Eagle Base, Bosnia. There, they met with the Army Materiel Command (AMC) Bosnia Commander at Camp Commanche and the maintenance officers at Camp McGovern and Camp Dobol. The vehicles were positioned and modifications finally got underway. During the last two weeks in May, the team overhauled nearly 60 TOW vehicles.

The team lived and worked in actual field conditions, sometimes sleeping in tents, or on cots. "For our own safety, we were not allowed to leave the camps except to travel to other U.S. facilities and then only in three-vehicle convoys," said Blansit.

"Teams like this do an outstanding job and usually, just like in Bosnia, complete the mission well ahead of schedule," said Mike Murray, who heads up the TOW shops at Letterkenny.

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