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8th ESB powers fight in Iraq

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 20055695539
Story by Sgt. Kristin S. Jochums

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (May 6, 2005) -- The heavy burden of ensuring the functional capabilities for the more than 200 pieces of tactical electrical equipment, which provide mission essential and life-saving support here, rests comfortably on the shoulders of the utilities platoon Marines, Support Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group (Forward).

The Marines responsible for the generators, flood lights and mobile electrical power distribution systems that keep the base up and running are junior Marines, most fresh out of their military occupational specialty schools, or augmented water purification specialists.

The Marines use their training and experience to ensure power is available to the communication equipment used.

“If we do not provide the power, we do not communicate across Iraq,” said Gunnery Sgt. Preston L. Fuller, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for the section. “[Communications] can not operate without power; you can’t use your email without power. We are the power people.”

The generators which supply power to the communications equipment, also support the needs of the Surgical Shock Trauma Platoon, Mortuary Affairs, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 8th ESB, the Supply Management Unit and the other FSSG units here.

The main responsibly for the unit is the maintenance and upkeep of the generators.

“Maintaining the generators is like taking care of a car,” said the Greenville, S.C., native.
“The majority of these generators run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Every 300 to 350 hours the Marines take regular preventative maintenance steps to ensure the longevity of the equipment.

The preventative maintenance includes regular oil changes and air, fuel and oil filter changes. This guarantees the generators are producing at the levels they should be.
Corporal Marvin I. Carter is the Marine in charge of handling the preventative maintenance for the generators here.

“The first step is to coordinate with all the sections that have a tactical generator and inform the command that I am about to start [performing preventative maintenance] on their gear,” said the Richmond, Va., native. “This has to be done because the generator will be off for a period of time.”

Carter and another Marine from the section pull a trailer with four 55-gallon drums, including a drum for oil, a drum for antifreeze, and two drums for used antifreeze and oil, so they have what they need to perform the maintenance.

They also carry repair parts and tools to replace the parts they take off the generators.

“The area we cover has over 25 different generator sites with at least two different generators per site,” he said. “It normally takes a week to complete the entire trip around the base. I am what you will call your Mobile Jiffy Lube.”

When a generator goes down and its operation is crucial to the mission on base, the Marines respond immediately to repair or replace it.

“There is a contact team on main side consisting of three Marines who are on duty 24 hours a day in case a generator goes down in the middle of the night,” said Fuller. “When the SSTP has a casualty, they call and have one of our Marines on standby at the generator. If it goes down, they can fire the other one up and repair the downed one.”

Maintaining the generators and other equipment is a crucial mission, but these Marines continue to meet the challenges placed before them as Operation Iraqi Freedom continues.

For more information about the Marines or news reported on in this story, contact by email cssemnfpao@cssemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil.


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