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NMCB 28 Route Repair Teams Work Night and Day in Iraq

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070525-08
Release Date: 5/25/2007 11:36:00 AM

By Equipment Operator 2nd Class Lori Roberts, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28 Public Affairs

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28’s route repair team crossed the 60-day mark of their Iraq deployment, May 20, working night and day to repair holes caused by improvised explosive devices (IED) on main supply routes (MSR) and alternate supply routes (ASR) in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.

The repair process originates with requests sent to the II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), who is responsible for deciding how critical the repair is to upcoming missions that require units to travel on the damaged roadway.

Missions are rated from most to least critical, then repairs are scheduled and completed on the basis of greatest need, according to Senior Chief Equipment Operator Jerry Carter, NMCB 28 Delta Company’s assistant officer in charge and MSR coordinator.

The team consists of nine members, one alternate, and a corpsman.

"The team is like a family, always looking out for each other and taking care of each other. If we have problems, we take care of it together,” said Equipment Operator 3rd Class John Hunsberger, who is responsible for driving the tool truck for the team. “We get a great sense of accomplishment because you're out there making it easier on our troops to travel these roads and get from one place to the other safely."

Equipment Operator 1st Class Jerry Dugger, crew leader, said their job potentially thwarts the efforts of insurgents.

“Repairing the craters helps prevent insurgents from placing new IEDs further into the middle of the road,” said Dugger. “Typically, their strategy seems to be to blast a crater on the edge of the road, then put an IED in that hole to blast a little further into the road, and so on until they get into the heavy traffic area. If we get the craters filled before they get too far into the road, we are potentially saving lives.”

Equipment Operator 1st Class Tomasa Wickert, an assistant crew leader, said she was both scared and excited to be chosen for the job.

“I really enjoy working on MSR crew; it was exciting to go outside the wire to complete a job. We really came together as a team to get the job done,” said Wickert, who lost friends in an IED explosion while deployed to Iraq with her previous battalion.

“I kept thinking about the Seabees from NMCB 25 who died on a convoy when their Humvee hit an IED. The first time out (for us), I was really afraid; but when I saw how the Marines dismounted from their Humvee to protect the MSR crew, my fear went away. I was able to relax and concentrate on my job and know that we were preventing needless death by preventing IEDs (from being placed).”

In all, approximately 60 miles of road are repaired regularly by NMCB 28’s MSR/ASR repair team. In coordination with other MSR teams, some Marine and some civilian, NMCB 28’s team continues to help keep the roads safe for military forces and civilians, Iraqis and foreigners alike.

NMCB 28 is part of nearly 1,100 Sailors and Marines supporting critical construction efforts in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.

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