Bob Crews is glued to news from Iraq, especially anything to do with the Bradley fighting vehicle.
The Modesto man's intense interest is personal and professional.
During the fall, he spent 2 1/2 months in Kuwait teaching soldiers how to use the Bradley's new computerized communication and navigation equipment.
"The modifications allow
everybody to know where our friendlies are," said Crews, who works for United Defense, a military equipment contractor. "We were on the same Bradleys that are in Iraq right now."
So far, so good on the war front.
"It is absolutely gratifying," said Crews, noting how well the Bradleys have performed in sandstorms and battles. "I know those units, and I know what their objectives are."
The soldiers also are familiar with Crews' work, although they may not realize it.
The Davis High School graduate (Class of '83) writes main-tenance and operation manuals for the Bradley and other military equipment.
Crews' instructions can mean the difference between life and death for those in combat. So he strives for clarity and leaves the fancy prose to other authors.
"Keep it simple" is his mantra. When he writes, the 38-year-old Crews said, he puts himself in the place of the soldiers who will use the equipment.
That is not a stretch for Crews, because he once was an Army track-vehicle mechanic.
He joined the military fresh out of high school.
"It made me grow up fast. It's something everybody should experience," the father of three said.
He received extensive tech-nical training in the Army and since then has benefited from veterans home loans and college funds.
"Joining the military is the best move any young person can make to set themselves up for the future," said Crews, who left the Army as a sergeant.
Six years ago he joined United Defense as an instructional system design specialist at its Santa Clara facility.
Another Modestan, Gale Rushing, recruited Crews and is now his boss.
The job keeps Crews on the move. This past week, for example, he has been at the military's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
"My job here is to go out and train the trainers" on use of the multiple-launch rocket system, Crews said.
During his 20 years in and around the military, Crews said, he has seen significant equipment improvements.
"The technological gains made in the last 10 to 15 years have been phenomenal," he said. "Today we have extremely well-built and survivable vehicles."
Crews said he believes in the quality of that equipment, like the Bradley, which is why he is committed to his job.
He also is committed to his family -- wife Rhonda, daughters Leyna and Taylor, son Dallas, and parents Dennis and Sandy Crews, all of Modesto -- but his loyalty is with the military.
"I'm patriotic," Crews said with pride. "If I was needed, I would go back in the Army."
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at 578-2196 or email@example.com.