Our company had a full office staff and a team of cooks. Because our maintenance unit needed to be 100 percent mobile, we had a fully staffed motor pool.
For a little more than three of my years in E Company, I was the sergeant in charge of the motor pool. It was our job to keep all of the vehicles in good operating order. We had jeeps, three-quarter ton trucks, 2 ½-ton troop carriers, several truck tractors and trailers and a large wrecker.
A few of our vehicles were specifically used for repairing aircraft. The wrecker was used to move disabled vehicles and remove and replace helicopter engines and rotors when in the field.
Stout Field also housed several full-time vehicle maintenance facilities. I was fortunate that one of our members of the motor pool also worked full time in one of the vehicle maintenance shops. He did a wonderful job of seeing that our fleet was always in great shape.
The officer assigned to oversee our motor pool was Joseph Dillon, a helicopter pilot. He tested the helicopters after they had been repaired. For many years he also flew the WTHR news helicopter.
I recall one occasion when we were involved in our two-week training session at Camp Grayling, Mich. A helicopter had received some major repairs, and Mr. Dillon was going to do several hours of test flights to make sure everything was going to operate perfectly.
After several hours of hovering at very low altitudes, he took a well-deserved break. He explained that he was finished with the basic hovering tests and was ready for some other testing and flight time.
As things were going smoothly in the motor pool, Mr. Dillon asked me if I would like to fly with him. I had flown in a helicopter and always enjoyed it. We got strapped in and were ready to fly.
After all of the preflight tests were completed, Mr. Dillon took us up fairly high. As I was enjoying the scenery I heard him say something about auto-rotation, of which I knew nothing.
I quickly learned that it was possible to kill the power to the blades and that the helicopter could land by using the rotation of the blades. I was shocked when the helicopter began dropping, but once I understood the process I was pretty much OK.
I have contacted some of the guys from the motor pool for a reunion. That should be lots of fun.