CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait -- The Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit maximized mission readiness by working the graveyard shift to avoid the daily heat during a maintenance stand down upon their arrival to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, in June.
They maximized this opportunity by focusing on maintenance, inspections and repairs that cannot be completed without difficulty aboard the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group.
“It lets us get as close to 100 percent mission capable as possible,” said Sgt. Jacob Thompson, 28, engineer section noncommissioned officer in charge, Combat Logistics Battalion 24, and Florence, Ala., native. “This stand down has been good for everybody. We’ve gotten a lot done in only a few days.”
The initial shift to working the late crew was hard at first, but overall the maintenance Marines said it was a safe and smart decision.
“It’s been easier on the Marines, working at night,” said Sgt. Derek Andrews, 30, assistant section leader, Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and Saline, Mich., native.
The soaring temperatures and dust storms add difficulties, which can slow down maintenance and, in some cases, cause it to stop. This hinders the Marine’s ability to safely sustain their vehicles on schedule with training operations, said Andrews.
With the switch to night shift, the Marines have been able to increase productivity and take large steps forward in their maintenance schedule.
“A lot of the things we’re fixing are parts people don’t usually consider,” said Sgt. Christopher Schneider, 30, artillery mechanic, CLB 24, and Heber Springs, Ark., native. “It’s all the little things like changing brake lights, checking fuel lines, and basically inspecting all our equipment from the generators to the trucks.”
The Marines have been able to do certain things to catch up on maintenance that cannot be performed safely while the ship is in open water. They have used the crane truck a lot recently to increase workflow with heavy movement and completed quarterly maintenance on the M-777 155 mm howitzers.
“We are working on getting everything to 100 percent by completing all the things we couldn’t do on ship,” said Schneider.
These countless hours of maintenance have allowed some of the Marines to step out of their primary jobs to assist their fellow Marines in the maintenance cycle.
“The maintainers and operators go through every piece together,” said Gunnery Sgt. William Giles, CLB 24 staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Marines ashore. “They’ve greased, lubed and busted rust on every single part of their vehicles and equipment. It will be like it just came out of the factory by the time they’re done.”
The mechanics and vehicle operators have grown close while on ship. Their time spent working and living together has allowed the Marines to become a solid team of technicians who work diligently to sustain operations while deployed.
“Never before have I seen such a close and efficient group of maintainers and operators,” said Giles. “The operators are right there beside the maintainers getting dirty, working on their vehicles.”
The Assault Amphibious Vehicle mechanics have experienced the same cohesion amongst their Marines.
“This is the best team I’ve had so far,” said Sgt. David Ortega, 27, maintenance chief, Alpha Company, and Saginaw, Mich., native. “These guys have worked hard to keep everything moving and ready to go. They’ve worked hard every day we’ve been here. We’re going to be at 100 percent by the time we go to the field and it’s because of these guys.”
The stand down allowed the Marines to accomplish a lot in only a few days. The Marines have established a maintenance cycle to prepare for upcoming training so they are ready for whatever is ahead. If something breaks, they’ll fix it and keep the Marines moving forward.