Armor comes back to Knox

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs

Master Sgt. Nathaniel Ketchum, battalion master gunner with the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment, checks the M1A1 Abrams tank prior to it being off-loaded at Fort Knox, Kentucky, July 19, 2018. The vehicles will be kept and maintained at the Kentucky National Guard’s Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) facility. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane)

FORT KNOX, Ky. – Soldiers with the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment off-loaded almost 30 military tanks and fighting vehicles that arrived by train July 19, 2018.

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The package unloaded includes fourteen M1A1 Abrams tanks, ten M2/M7 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and three M88A2 Hercules Recovery Vehicles.

“Basically, armor is coming back to Kentucky”, said Maj. Justin Watts, deputy Supervisory Surface Maintenance Specialist at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES).

The move helps out the Ohio Guard Soldiers by giving them more time for hands-on training with more training area to work with while cutting down the distance that the unit usually had to travel to Minnesota, which is a 30-hour bus ride to and from Ohio.

“We’re bringing some armor back to Knox,” said Master Sgt. Nathaniel Ketchum, 145th’s battalion master gunner. We are trying to facilitate and improve our training ability because in previous years we’ve been training in Minnesota and it’s a long ride there and back; this move will really help us maximize our IDT (inactive duty) training time.”

A Soldier with the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment ground guides a M1A1 Abrams tank off a train bed at Fort Knox, Kentucky July 19, 2018. The vehicles will be kept and maintained at the Kentucky National Guard’s Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) facility. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane)

Another benefit of bringing the vehicles down from Minnesota to Kentucky will be the weather. Trying to get to your tank in two feet of snow and having to chip out ice to get to your turret hatch during the winter isn’t any fun for the Soldiers.

Also, the larger training area will allow the units to do more than maneuver training.

“Here they will be able come in and do their complete gunnery requirements,” said Capt. Eric Green, officer in charge at MATES.

For the Kentucky National Guard, this move allows the vehicle maintainers at the MATES facility an opportunity to work on their skills and show what kind of high standard work they can do. This also has the potential to bring in more jobs for Kentucky Guard Soldiers.

Soldiers with the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment ground guides a M88 Hercules tank off a train bed at Fort Knox, Kentucky July 19, 2018. The vehicles will be kept and maintained at the Kentucky National Guard’s Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) facility. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane)

 

“This brings an added level of relevance to the Kentucky Guard to enter into a relationship like this with another state, said Lt. Col. Steven Engels, Supervisory Surface Maintenance Specialist at MATES. “It produces a lot of potential for future packages if we maintain this equipment well.”

That is something echoed by the senior leadership for the 145th as well.

“In the future, we are looking at bringing the rest of our tanks and Bradleys down here if the facility works as well as we think it will,” added Ketchum.