David Schaper, NPR
Flo Moore oversees the weld and fabrication unit of armor production at the Rock Island Arsenal. She hopes her work helps protect her son and his comrades in an Illinois National Guard unit. They recently left for Iraq.
In the remains of a Humvee destroyed in Iraq, the armored doors are intact.
The job of protecting U.S. troops in Iraq from land mines, roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and sniper fire is largely falling on factory workers back home.
At the U.S. Army's Rock Island Arsenal, located on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River between Illinois and Iowa, workers labor around the clock to produce armor for Humvees and supply trucks. It's the Army's only complete, start-to-finish factory for add-on armor kits.
Since production began just over a year ago, the arsenal has sent nearly 3,000 armor kits to Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On factory floors stretching the length of several football fields, three-eighth-inch thick armor steel is shaped into Humvee and fitted with bullet-proof glass.
Marty Bollman was hired as a temporary worker at the plant last month after losing his job of 24 years at a steel mill that shut down. After being jobless for 10 months, he's not just thankful to be working — he says he has a strong sense of honor and pride in his work.
"You know you're working for something," Bollman says. "It's not just putting a nut and bolt together. This is for the troops and it's a good feeling. It's easy to get up in the morning."