View Full Version : Fabric repair workers weave esprit de corps

02-04-04, 07:56 AM
Fabric repair workers weave esprit de corps
Submitted by: MCRD Parris Island
Story Identification Number: 20041309929
Story by Cpl. Alisha R. Fitzgerald

MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.(Jan. 30, 2004) -- In a tiny room above Depot Laundry, three individuals function behind-the-scenes as one of Parris Island's most integral units.

From recruit training platoons to personal keepsakes, the Fabric Repair Shop is responsible for creating every guidon that flies aboard the Depot.

"We are very important to Depot operations," said Laverne Johnson, civilian fabric worker/sewing machine mechanic for the shop. "The flags are like gold to the Marines. If they didn't have them, it would upset the entire order of things."

Johnson has been working at the shop for 11 years and has been sewing for more than 20. She works alongside two Marines, who attended a six-week school to specifically train for this particular Military Occupational Specialty.

The three create each guidon from scratch with sizable rolls of gold and red fabric. The material must first be measured and cut. Lines are then drawn on the fabric to mark where platoon numbers, letters or symbols will be placed. Each item to be sewn on must be stenciled, cut and pinned. The material is then taken to one of the shop's five sewing machines for completion.

From start to finish, the entire process usually takes about an hour, barring any interruptions.

While the shop is able to stay on top of the needed recruit training platoon guidons by tracking with the Depot's recruit training schedule, guidons ordered by Marines or other Depot personnel for special occasions or personal keepsakes, usually take about three to four weeks to complete, depending on the shop's workload.

"We slow down a lot during the winter months," said Cpl. Terry Johnson, fabric repair specialist for the shop. "During the summer, it's very hectic."

Although personal requests may take a little longer to fulfill, they are done at no cost to the individual. Those who opt for something besides the standard red and gold can bring in their own material to be sewn.

"We only do [the personal orders] as time permits outside of our primary workload," said Cpl. Johnson. "But you'd be surprised how many we actually make on a regular basis. A lot of people like giving them to Marines who are leaving or retiring."

Besides sewing guidons, the shop produces the Depot's Marine Corps Martial Arts Program's pugil sticks. They can also repair any damaged bucket issue item.

Although the shop performs other tasks, all who work there agree that the guidons are the truest representation of their importance to Depot operations.

"When I see a platoon marching with their guidon flying, I think, 'Hey-I did that,'" said Johnson. "It's a great sense of pride and accomplishment for me."

Being able to see the fruits of their labor all over the Depot is only one perk to the job, according to Johnson.

"I love to sew, and I like meeting with the people who come in," she said.
Although one of Johnson's Marine counterparts admitted to not being quite as speedy as she is on the sewing machine, he appreciates several other aspects about working in the small shop.

"The flexible schedule enables me to get a lot of things done," said Cpl. Johnson.
Corporal Johnson and the other Marine fabric repair specialist in the shop, Cpl. Corey Daniels, are soon to become a thing of the past. Headquarters Marine Corps has closed out the MOS in preparation for a complete civilian turnover projected for late 2005. This is the only job either of the Marines has performed since enlisting.

For more information on the shop or to put in an order for some of their handiwork, call 228-3194.


Laverne Johnson, civilian fabric worker/sewing machine mechanic for the Depot Fabric Repair Shop, stitches a recruit training platoon guidon at the shop Jan. 20. Johnson has been working at the shop for 11 years.
Photo by: Cpl. Alisha R. Fitzgerald