SEPTEMBER 29, 2016, SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A Soldier with the Illinois Army National Guard has invented a device that improves Soldier safety and equipment longevity while repairing light howitzers that has recently been adopted Army-wide.
“I am shocked that the Army is going to adopt something I designed myself,” said Army Sgt. Wesley Todd, a machinist with the Illinois Army Guard’s Combined Support Maintenance Shop at North Riverside Armory in North Riverside, Illinois. “It’s an honor to know I improved the Army in a small way,” Todd said.
Todd’s invention will affect the Army in more than a small way, said others.
“This Soldier’s invention will increase safety and save the entire Army hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment parts and repair time,” said Army Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. “These are resources that will now be able to be devoted to other U.S. Army priorities.”
For Hayes, it serves as an example of great leadership and initiative.
“Sgt. Todd has shown how a single Illinois Army National Guard Soldier can improve a process for the entire Army and his leadership has shown us a great example of how to listen to your Soldiers’ ideas and help them implement positive changes,” he said. “I’m proud to have these Soldiers under my command.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steve Murphy, the armament supervisor at the CSMS, said Todd took it upon himself to design and fabricate the device when he saw Soldiers struggling to remove a seized muzzle break on a light howitzer.
“It can be very difficult to remove the muzzle break,” said Murphy. “They sometimes seize up in varying weather conditions.”
Soldiers would normally use sledgehammers to free a seized muzzle break, which often resulted in additional damage to the muzzle break and had the potential to damage other parts as well, said Murphy adding that just the gun tube of a howitzer can cost more than $265,000.
Todd’s device allows Soldiers to apply enough force to remove a seized muzzle break, but in a way that doesn’t damage the gun tube or its rifling grooves.
“This is a very helpful tool and I believe it will be very helpful throughout the Army as well,” said Sgt. 1st Class Edger Gomez, an artillery repairman who works with Todd at the CSMS.
It also makes it safer, while increasing efficiency.
“Using this device instead of a sledge hammer has and will continue to keep the Soldier safer when working on the equipment,” said Murphy. “The device has also made the process much faster.”
Despite the invention’s big impact, Todd said it was just in another day’s work.
“Making things is a part of my job,” he said. “This is by far the most impactful thing I have ever made though.”
Todd, who has worked as a machinist at the CSMS for three years, said he normally repairs damaged parts and makes new parts for military vehicles and equipment.
“This was the first part that I designed myself and then fabricated,” said Todd. “Normally I fabricate parts from manuals in the shop.”
After an Army review of the device, it was approved and scheduled for Army-wide implementation by the end of the year.
“I have no doubt this device will go on to make a huge impact to the efficiency of removing the muzzle break Army-wide,” said Murphy. “[Todd] is an unbelievable machinist and I am very proud of him for stepping up when there was a need.”