View Full Version : Maintenance Center employees return from Iraq

12-15-05, 11:13 AM
Maintenance Center employees return from Iraq
MCLB Barstow
Story by Pfc. Quentin Grogan

MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. (Dec. 15, 2005) -- Nine civilian volunteers from Maintenance Center Barstow recently returned from a deployment to Iraq where they assisted Marines by providing more armor for vehicles.

The group departed MCLB Barstow July 26 and returned October 27 after armoring more than their share of vehicles.

There were a number of reasons for deploying civilians to Iraq. Troops in Iraq are in need of armored vehicles. In order to fulfill that need, it is faster to have civilians armor the vehicles in Iraq, rather than bringing the vehicles to Barstow. Another reason is that it is also more cost efficient, said Rick Noonan, heavy mobile equipment supervisor.

The team's mission was to install armor on MK-48 logistics vehicle systems, High Mobility Multipurpose Vehicle's (HMMWV's) and five-ton trucks. They also assisted Marines with technical help like installing windows in vehicles.

"Originally we were told we had to repair 300 vehicles," said Doug Tate, heavy mobile equipment journeyman.

After their work was done, that number jumped to 443 vehicles.

When the mission was first conceived, a list of possible candidates was created. The employees who were most qualified to go were selected to be part of a group that would soon leave for Iraq.

Before leaving, the members of the group were unaware of the conditions and what challenges they would face upon their arrival once in country.

"We didn't know what we would encounter," said Jason Braden, heavy mobile equipment journeyman. "We just knew our mission."

The team was based at Al Taqqadam (Camp TQ). For three weeks, four members of the group went to Camp Fallujah to assist Marines there.

Once the civilians arrived in Iraq, they were faced with temperatures topping 120 degrees, long working hours, and the fact they were in a war zone.

The working hours were significantly greater in Iraq compared to Barstow, said Braden. The group worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with a sporadic day off. At times the group worked for 24 hours straight, even skipping breaks and lunches, just to get the job done, he added.

Several of the group members said one of the worst parts of the deployment was the flight over.

Even though the group's presence there was to repair vehicles and install armor, they were subjected to the same dangers Marines faced everyday.

"After the first mortar hit, we all looked at each other and said, 'We volunteered for this,'" said Art Torres, heavy mobile equipment journeyman.

Afterwards, Torres went on to say that he was glad he went.

"We could hear incoming and outgoing rounds all the time," said Noonan.

Another challenge they faced was the lack of tools to do their job, which is not a problem at MCLB Barstow.

"[In Barstow] if you need something, you get it. There, we had to modify some tools to do the job, or make it on our own," said Noonan.

Every member of the team spoke highly of the Marines they encountered in Iraq.

"They were awesome," said Noonan. "They would bend over backwards for us."

On the other hand, Marines in Iraq were also just as appreciative of the deployed group. Members of the group said that Marines would come up and thank them for their work.

"The satisfaction I get is from knowing how much we helped the Marines on the front lines," said Braden.

Members of the group included Art Torres, heavy mobile equipment journeyman, Jeff Donovan, artillery repair workleader, Terry Rolfs, artillery repairman, Jason Braden, heavy mobile equipment journeyman, Paul Biancotti, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, Rick Noonan, heavy mobile equipment supervisor, Harold Grey, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, Stanley Padilla, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, and Doug Tate, heavy mobile equipment journeyman.