NCO ensures 138th Soldiers can be found on the battlefield

Story and Photos by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade

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Staff Sgt. Nicholas Tomassi oversees the installation, maintenance and upgrading of the Blue Force Tracker system in more than a hundred vehicles for the 138th Fires Brigade. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade)

FORT KNOX, Ky. – One of the most strategic and life-saving breakthroughs in technology for Soldiers in combat was the invention and adaptation of the Blue Force Tracker or ‘BFT’ for short. The BFT is a more intricate version of the GPS that provides military commanders and the Soldiers with location information about friendly and hostile military forces.

So when a part is defective on the BFT, it’s serious.  It can cost American lives in combat. The 138th Fires Brigade has a long-standing reputation for taking care of some of the best trained Soldiers in the National Guard.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bernie C. Caldwell, 138th Fires Brigade Training Officer, “I think the best Soldiers in the National Guard are right here in Kentucky, and they deserve the best equipment and training.”

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Staff Sgt. Nicholas Tomassi checks the Blue Force Tracker system on a tactical vehicle. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade)

It was at this point that Chief Caldwell assigned Staff Sgt. Nicholas Tomassi the task of overseeing, installing, and supervising the upgrades and replacement of the BFT system in over 124 of the 138th’s vehicles staged at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“I’m proud of the fact he trusted such a huge job to me, however I really didn’t understand how big of a job it would be until I got to Fort Knox” said Tomassi.

Tomassi was given a timeline of three weeks and the help of two Soldiers, Sgt. Brittany Johnson and Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, and three contractors to complete the mission.

This was no easy task.

Each individual vehicle had to be moved to the installation area, plus the installation of the BFT, and the system test to each BFT to insure it was done correctly, and finally the restaging of all 124 vehicles had to take place, and all within three weeks.

The mission was completed in nine days.

Tomassi  and his take-charge style ensured that it was done quickly and efficiently.

“Once we got going we found a good rhythm to it all. The tough part was fighting the weather” said Tomassi.  “It rained for several days and was really cold and most of what we were doing was done outside.”

“I was really happy, it’s not every day I can handoff a project this big to someone and know that everything will get done right” said Caldwell. “Tomassi did an outstanding job, so did the whole team at Fort Knox.”

The Soldiers that will be the happiest are the ones that will be in those vehicles down the road.

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