MCA civilian-Marines cited for overseas tours

18 Jun 2009 | Art Powell

Twenty-one civilian workers at Maintenance Center Albany were awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism in ceremonies conducted in the MCA lobby June 11.

“Thank you for what you do. Your work means we can provide the warfighter with the equipment they need to fight terrorism,” said Maj. Gen. Willie J. Williams, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command. Williams then pinned each recipient with the medal.

All workers honored with the medal had served an overseas tour supporting

maintenance operations for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. The citation which accompanied the award read, “The medal symbolizes the honor and achievement of civilians with the Department of Defense to defend freedom against danger that may develop on foreign soil. The ribbon’s blue stripe is associated with the Department of Defense; gold represents excellence; black and red symbolize the threat of terrorism; red, white and blue are for patriotism and love of freedom.”

MCA officials pointed out that civilians who volunteer for duty to support Overseas Contingency Operations are special because while Marines know they can be deployed to serve anywhere, civilians aren’t required to deploy.

“These are members of our community, who live out in town. They volunteer to serve overseas and nobody here at home might ever realize they volunteered to go into a combat scenario,” said Col. Daniel J. Gillan, commander, MCA. “It takes a genuine, American hero to go overseas as a civilian and do this work. And that’s who we’re recognizing today.”

While some civilian volunteers may have had military service, many have not and for them to volunteer for overseas duty is a big commitment, Gillan added.

“Anyone who says these hard-chargers aren’t on the front lines has never experienced a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, because there is no front line. The threat of terrorism is here, it’s everywhere. That’s why it’s called the global war on terrorism,” he said.

Those who received the medal spoke of a common theme that led them to deploy overseas.

“I went over to ensure that our civilians were being taken care of,” said Carlos Cruz, who served five months overseas as a liaison between the civilians and the Marines they supported. “Our main goal here is to support the Marine Corps. They called upon us and we went.”

For Cruz and some of the other recipients, the award of the medal came as a surprise.

“We weren’t expecting this. It shows that they care about what we did. The environment was hot and dusty over there, one hundred and twenty degrees during the day, one hundred degrees at night. But we all knew what we were getting into,” he said.

Deploying proved to be an educational experience for one MCA worker, who said he got to see what happens to equipment they work on everyday at MCA.

“It was an uplifting experience to see equipment that we work on here actually put to work. Most of the people (at MCA) don’t know what happens to the equipment when it leaves here,” said Alonzo Jones, electrician, Trades Department, MCA.

Another recipient explained that his desire to deploy was based on moving closer to the equipment that needed maintenance.

“I looked forward to going because I knew they were struggling over there and just like we were supporting them here, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to sacrifice a little bit of safety to go over there and possibly save some kids’ life,” said Scott Fields, electric equipment repair leader, Trades Department, MCA.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany