DVIDS – News – Reserve rail adviser keeps soldiers on track

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – Are you working at your dream job? sergeant. 1st Class Jonathan L. Sims is in not one, but two sectors.

As a civilian, he is a locomotive engineer for Amtrak. As a soldier, he is a senior rail advisor for the US Army Reserve. Sims has capitalized personally and professionally on his childhood love for trains, as he enjoys leading other soldiers in his unit and keeping this army profession on track.

A 14-year veteran with the 757th Expeditionary Railway Center (ERC) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Sims was so determined to work on military rail that he was ready to enlighten his recruiter about the existence of rail work.

“When I met my recruiter, he had no idea the military had trains, so I had to show him and tell him that was what I wanted for a job,” Sims said.

Sims devotes his weekends and free time between combat assemblies to Army Rail and his subordinates and unit peers, including the U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant. 1st Class Charles Priest, the NCO in charge of the ERC, who has worked with Sims since he joined the Army.

“We’ve been together in this Reserve unit for 14 years,” Priest said. “The Sims are exceptional at mentoring and preparing junior soldiers for our rail missions. He is a great example of a leader.”

Standing 6 feet 4 inches tall, Sims towers over everyone in his unit, but still manages to be approachable, kind, and caring towards his soldiers, including his newest team member, U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant. John M. Tierney, member of the ERC Rail Operations Team.

“I was an active duty tanker, and since I moved to Reserve a few months ago, it’s been a little daunting because the work is a little different in each component,” Tierney said. “Sims has been my go-to man since I arrived here and it’s been helpful that he’s responsive and approachable.”

Tierney said the help offered by Sims is not limited to Army Reserve duty hours.

“I hope to be a locomotive engineer in my civilian job because I just got hired by the railroad. The Sims also helps me get started,” Tierney said.

One of the most critical missions of the ERC during the weekend combat assemblies is the inspection of the railways. Railroad crew members walk along railroad tracks and search for damaged sleepers, faulty bolts, and anything that could compromise railroad operations or railroad infrastructure.

“Railway inspections are just a small part of what we do,” Priest explained. “This is part of the broader framework of railway assessments, which we provide to our international partners.”

Not only did the ERC allow unit members to travel overseas, Sims said the military provided education and certification opportunities, which he used to advance in his civilian career. .

“I could not have become a locomotive engineer as a civilian without the training opportunities of the ERC,” said Sims.

What makes the ERC unique is that it is the only railroad unit of the Ministry of Defence. So there are not many soldiers specialized in railway operations.

“My job isn’t just to move trains from one side of the country to the other,” Sims said. “I preserve railroad heritage by training and mentoring soldiers to maintain this excellence.

Date taken: 08.06.2022
Date posted: 22.09.2022 11:47
Story ID: 429698
Location: Virginia, United States

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