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Feature | July 12, 2017

From ACUs to jeans: The crossover mechanic

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Corey Williams walks into the Fort Eustis Auto Craft Center and Inspection Station--his first day on the job. He may be the new guy in the shop, but the sounds of impact wrenches and smell of grease are nothing new to him.

Williams, who once sported an Army Combat Uniform and a clean shaven face has since traded them in for jeans, a t-shirt and a full beard.

After joining the U.S. Army in 2006, Williams served as a U.S. Army light vehicle mechanic for eight years. First stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was later assigned to the 149th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. During this time he learned many technical and professional skills, which he uses in his everyday life.

“I’m very thankful for the military and the things I learned in the Army,” said Williams. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Army.”

At a young age, while growing up in New York, Williams had an affinity for community service, due to his upbringing in a military family and working with youth programs. He also spent time working on cars while attending Apex Technical School in New York City.

According to Williams, core traits like integrity and discipline were instilled in him throughout his Army career and an important part of who he is today.

“In the military you’re taught to do the right thing, even when no one is looking and that happens a lot in the civilian world because you’re not always going to have your boss looking over your shoulder,” said Williams. “You can’t take shortcuts, especially with vehicles because people are essentially putting their lives in your hands and trusting you to take care of their vehicle.”

After leaving the service in 2015, Williams struggled to find his place in the shop, while working as a “civilian” mechanic because the transition between the military and civilian work wasn’t as easy as Williams expected.

He explained that whether at the gym or at the Auto Craft Center, he occasionally sees his former battle buddies from the 149th Trans. Co., 10th Trans. Btn., 7th Trans. Bde. (Ex.), and enjoys the continued support he has from those members on the installation.

“You have a certain camaraderie with your brothers and sisters in arms that you don’t get out in the civilian world; not everybody understands the stuff that you’ve been through,” said Williams. “You connect with other service members a lot quicker. You’re pressed to be close with those people because at some point your life could be dependent on the people you work with and live with in a deployed environment.”

According to Christopher McCoy, Fort Eustis Auto Craft Center and Inspection Station owner and operator, Williams carried over his work ethic and motivation from his time as a Soldier into his new line of work.

“He’s always the first one here and one of the last to leave,” said McCoy. “We treat everyone like family and we take care of him, knowing that he’ll take care of his coworkers and the get the job done successfully in return.”

Though he’s happy he can now grow a beard and is no longer required to show up to early morning physical training, Williams is grateful for the skills and ethics he learned in the Army. He hopes to further grow as a civilian, with an appreciation for his brothers and sisters still serving today.