FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN , AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, Helmand province, Afghanistan - Black grease stains cover his arms after working for hours in the hot weather. The young Marine takes a drink from a warm water bottle that sat beside him as he worked. He accidentally smudges his face with grease as he wipes the sweat away. Then he looks up to his corporal standing over him and says, “All done boss,” with a grin on his face.
Marines in the Engineer Section with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion work through many hours each day, turning wrenches and dissecting machines and equipment to keep their fellow Marines in the fight.
Even on an “easy day” the Marines work at least 10 hours a day -- that’s more than 11,000 man-hours worked between the six-man team since arriving in Afghanistan six months ago.
They work on everything from Light Armored Vehicles to fabrication work and repair or modification of items such as engineer equipment, motor transport gear, weapons, generators and air conditioners. They are responsible for keeping units running, fixing equipment when it goes down, and replacing items when they no longer work and cannot be repaired.
“The Marines we support depend on our work because it keeps them moving,” said Baltimore native Lance Cpl. John Deabers, the electrician with the Engineer Section. “It keeps the guys who are out there on the battlefield focused on their missions because they don’t have to worry about the things we take care of.”
The engineers use more than 400 pieces of equipment to keep the mobile LAVs weighing more than 12 tons running. Lathes, shapes, milling machines, grinders and many more tools are just some examples of what Marines like Deabers and Cpl. Joshua R. Tellez of Chicago use to accomplish their everyday tasks.
“As a machinist I help make anything and everything the LAVs or generators and air conditioners might need to keep them working,” said Tellez, a 23-year-old machinist with the unit and a loving husband and father.
Tellez, a 2007 Alan B. Shepard High School graduate, admitted getting dirty and working with his hands is something in which he takes great pride.
“I never thought I’d be where I am today, but I love what I do,” said Tellez. “The Marine (Corps) wasn’t the first thing on my list as a kid, but It’s been a good experience overall.”
Deabers, on the other hand, said joining the Marines is what he’s always wanted to do, and this deployment has tipped the scale toward hopefully re-enlisting.
“I come from a military family, and it’s been something I’ve had my mind set on doing since I was 13,” explained the loving husband and father of three kids. “You know, my plan was just to serve for four years, but now it could be a little longer than that.”
Tellez and Deabers work hand-in-hand alongside the four other engineer Marines in their section everyday. They actually haven’t taken a day off throughout their entire deployment.
One task keeping the team of Marines busy is the more than 100 generators they must keep track of and ensure are properly working. Those pieces of equipment power up hundreds of mission-essential computers and other electronic devices used for communication and mission accomplishment.
Deabers, a 2007 graduate of Bowie High School, and the six-man engineer team said they know they will never come into work the same way they showed up. Grease stains and dirt cover their desert utilities and fatigue radiates through their bodies as the sun fades below the horizon each day, but they are devoted to supporting their fellow Marines and sailors.
“Sure the work is hard, but I know the work I do helps these guys,” said Deabers. “That’s what keeps me motivated to come into work every morning.”
Tellez said the passion Deabers displays in his work ethic makes him want to work even harder.
The friendly competition keeps both Marines working hard, and they agreed their experiences during the deployment have been great. However, they are also ready to head back to the United States after being deployed for more than six months.
“This deployment has been fun and all, but I’m just ready to get back home and see my wife and kids,” said Tellez with a smile. “I’ve given it my best for the past six months, and it was for my love to serve the Marines around me, but I can’t wait to go home, hug and kiss my wife, and play with my kids.”
“I‘ve built a good relationship with the guys I work with out here, which is what I like most about this deployment,” added Deabers. “But I definitely miss my wife and kids and it would be great to just sit on my couch in my basketball shorts … and play with my kids.”
Editor’s note: 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is currently assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
||FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN , AF
This work, Engineers keep fellow Marines in fight, by Sgt Marco Mancha, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.