Guest Post By Donna Zephrine: Al Asad, Iraq

  • Who: You and Motor Sargent
  • What: Taking inventory of the tools
  • Where: in tool room
  • When: overnight
  • Why: make sure you can account for all the tools
  • Conflict: Tools are missing because soldiers forgot to return them and their needed to fix a vehicle


It was 2:00am in Al Asad, Iraq and time for inventory of the tool room to be done. I opened the conex and turned on the generator as I started my shift. I brought my binder with me where I kept track of everyone who had taken a tool and retuned it. I often had to look at the pictures to make sure all of the tools were in their proper place. I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders because the tools were worth over $30,000 and I was the sole individual responsible for them.  Each time I would start my shift I would be nervous something would go terribly wrong and that I would have to report to the Motor Sargent if I made a mistake. I usually didn’t lose tools but it was always a possibility.

On this particular night inventory seemed to be in order as it should be. I started out checking each drawer to make sure they were well organized. In the conex was every tool you could imagine. There were wrenches, power washers, screw drivers, air pumps, car jacks, and a lot more. It was overwhelming to keep track of but I usually was on top of it. Then I had to review my binder for what tools hadn’t been returned. This was a difficult task because sometimes things wouldn’t be in the correct place or I had to constantly ask people to return a tool they had used. At first everything looked like it was in order. All the tools seemed to be where they should be and nothing seemed to be missing.

As I was getting ready to end my shift a group of soldiers came with a broken down vehicle that needed to be fixed immediately. I quickly rushed to get the tools they needed and soon realized the car jack meant for that specific vehicle had gone missing. I panicked because this vehicle was extremely important and needed to be fixed that night. I checked the spot where the car jack was supposed to be and it clearly wasn’t there. I grabbed my binder to see if anyone had signed it out and realized I had overlooked it. The car jack was supposed to be returned three days ago. This meant I would have to go find the person who took the car jack and try to get it back. Just as I was about to leave to find the soldier the Motor Sargent came to me.

I had to tell him that the car jack was missing and needed to fix the vehicle. He was understanding but stern in the fact that we needed that car jack tonight. He told me he would help the other soldiers as much as he could with the vehicle while I went to find the car jack. I then left to find the soldier with the car jack, which was a difficult task. It was hard to know where he would be because he could be on a mission for days at a time. I found a group of soldiers from his platoon and asked if they knew where he was. Just as I had feared, he was on a mission and could not be reached. I asked if it was with his things but after looking it was clear he must have taken it with him. I was afraid to return to the tool room and tell the Motor Sergent I couldn’t get the car jack back.

I returned to the tool room and told my Motor Sargent what had happened. He seemed agitated and concerned about what we were going to do. I suggested that maybe another Company would have a similar car jack that we could use. He said for me to contact them immediately and ask to borrow one. Luckily a company nearby had one that they agreed to let me borrow as long as I returned it in the morning. As soon as I go the car jack we were able to fix the vehicle and send the soldiers on their way.

This night remains in my memory because it taught me to be even more diligent when doing inventory. I was relieved that my Motor Sargent was understanding and supported me throughout this hectic night. Ever since then I double and triple check every tool in the tool room.

Donna Zephrine was born in Manhattan, NY to parents from Trinidad. Donna did 6 years in the reserves and then went on to active duty in the army. She was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, 3 infantry division in Savannah Georgia. Donna did two deployments in Irag from March 2003-December 2003 and October 2004-October 2005. She was a mechanic while in the military. Donna received numerous awards including the Army Accommodation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. Currently, Donna works for the NY State of Mental Health while earning her MSW from Columbia School of Social Work. I expect to graduate this coming May 2017. Donna enjoys cycling, kayaking,sled hockey, and writing. She loves to learn new things and consistently challenge herself; her next goal is to learn to play the guitar. Writing has been a way to express myself and reflect on my feelings and I enjoy sharing my stories with others. 

About Frances Wiedenhoeft

After a lifetime in nursing, anesthesia and the Army I now write, blog, attend school for journalism and massage, and watch my 3 grandchildren. I am a veteran of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan and try to serve other vets such as myself, and to work for peace.
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