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Communications electronics maintenance Marines keep 3rd MAW in contact

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 5/10/2004

Story by Story by Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III

AL ASAD, Iraq(May 10, 2004) -- The communications and electronics maintenance Marines of Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38, Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, were some of the first troops to arrive here in early February in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since their arrival here, they have been tasked with numerous assignments, ranging from the repair of standard field radios to the more advanced repair of fiber-optic cable.

"Inside the communications electronics maintenance platoon we have several sections that take care of the different types of gear we use," said Master Sgt. Richard E. Felton, officer-in-charge, communications and electronics maintenance platoon, MWCS-38. "We have the telephone and computer repair section, the radio section, the critical low density section and the cryptologic section."

He added that inside each of the sections are highly trained Marines who are experts in their military occupational specialties.

"These Marines go through some intense training in their MOS school," added the 39-year-old Detroit native. "They have to learn what an electronics technician should do and then some of them continue on to learn more advanced skills, such as radios and computers."

Lance Cpl. Chad J. Wilson, radio technician, communications and electronics maintenance platoon, MWCS-38, and a 25-year-old Salem, Ohio, native, entered this MOS and swiftly realized he was technically inclined.

"It came pretty quick to me," he said. "I think because I joined the Marine Corps a little late and experienced a few things before I joined, it has enabled me to catch on as to how things work."

He added that his job in the combat environment here is almost the same as it is at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

"I enjoy doing my job out here," he said. "It's challenging at times and makes me have to think and it does not bore me."

Wilson also said part of his job requires him to use techniques not common to some military occupations.

"There are mathematical equations I do in my head that help me with my job," he said. "If (a component) is not functioning properly, you do a quick little equation in your head and determine what part is broken and where."

A common occurrence here is computer problems that require the attention of a Marine who likens her job to a childhood pastime.

"My job is like playing with Legos," said Cpl. Victoria M. Bellman, telephone and computer repairman, communications and electronics maintenance platoon, MWCS-38. "When I look at a computer all I see are Legos. The hard drive plugs in like a Lego, the motherboard plugs in like a Lego, and all the pieces are like Legos."

She added that her MOS gives her the opportunity to become trained not only by military instructors, but also civilian instructors.

"I am a Dell-certified technician," said the 21-year-old Eureka, Ill., native. "This will help me when I get out of the military to land a job with any computer company because I know how to fix computers."

Another part of Bellman's job is fixing fiber-optic cable and she said this is the hardest thing for her to do.

"When you sit and try to fuse two pieces of glass that are one-tenth the size of your hair, it can be frustrating," she said. "I like it, but it's tedious."

In a short amount of time in her new MOS, Sgt. Anna M. Sobecki, platoon sergeant and radio technician, communications and electronics maintenance platoon, MWCS-38, has developed a high opinion of her Marines.

"I believe this is an outstanding platoon," added the 24-year-old Michigan City, Ind., native. "They are outstanding Marines. This platoon is a well-oiled machine and I just make sure the fluids are filled and it gets gas every once in a while."

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