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Mobile Maintenance Assist Team returns from overseas tour

By Art Powell | | March 26, 2009

Eight Marines from the Mobile Maintenance Assist Team returned home March 16 at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport in Albany, Ga.

The team, from Marine Corps Logistics Command, was deployed to Iraq to assess the maintenance needs of equipment used in the Global War on Terror.

“It was starting to get warm over there, so we got out just in time,” said Sgt. Antonio Garansuay as he was greeted by his 3-year-old daughter Olivia and wife Cindy. “Some days were busy, some days not, but we did what we had to do and came home.”

Garansuay’s arrival back in Albany marked the end of his third overseas tour.

When Staff Sgt. Reginald Whipple walked into the airport terminal, he was surprised to see the turnout of family, friends, fellow Marines and the local news media present to greet him and the other returnees.

“I wasn’t expecting this kind of turnout. This was my first deployment and a turnout like this is nice.  The first group I saw when I got off the plane was my wife and three children, so that made the arrival even greater,” he added.

Whipple explained that thinking about his family while he was deployed helped him stay focused.

“I thought about them the whole time and how I wanted to get back to them,” he said about his three month deployment. “The living conditions over there are pretty good, but leaving the family, that’s the hard part.”

Marines at the airport to greet the team realized the importance of the work the team does while deployed overseas, and how it supports the GWOT.

“These Marines are an assist team. That means they look at Marine Corps equipment and help with maintenance accountability to determine if equipment is serviceable or not,” said Maj. Ricardo Matus, commanding officer, Headquarters Company East, Marine Corps Logistics Command. “They get a good look at the equipment and then we have a better idea of what we’re going to do once equipment starts coming back.”

Matus explained the value of having personnel forward deployed to assess future maintenance needs for equipment that has been in service under harsh conditions.

“I think what they do is very important because they get an idea of what the equipment looks like and that lets us start planning and start ordering parts we may need so we can turn that equipment around and get it back to the warfighter as quickly as we possibly can. It saves us time and, in many cases, it saves us money.”