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More MCA workers depart for Iraq

By Art Powell | | August 20, 2009

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One civilian-Marine and eight contract workers at Maintenance Center Albany departed for Iraq Monday for tours of duty ranging from six to 12 months. They will be supporting the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle program.

Like all previous civilian-Marine and contractor deployments from MCA, training began several months before the departure date.

“We received a requirement three months ago that workers like these were needed, and all nine of these men leaving today volunteered to go,” said Salvatore DeMichael, forward branch manager, MCA. “We processed them for all the medical requirements, certifications and other tests and procedures.”

Part of the training required workers to attend training on the Cougar and Buffalo MRAP systems.

“Force Protection is the name of the company who has the rights to these MRAPs and they provide the latest training to workers before they depart for overseas duty,” DeMichael said.

While jobs skills and other requirements are met for the workers, family members are also briefed.

“We had a family pre-deployment briefing session August 10th which included talks from specialists who explain the process and points of contact should family members need our help. It also included talks from family members of individuals who have already deployed, so they can tell families what they experienced,” DeMichael said.

Family members who gathered outside MCA for the departure said those who were deploying had been briefed about what to expect.

“They tell them what to expect over there, and they make sure they know it’s not a cake walk,” said the father of one departing workers. “It’s going to be long, hard workdays, and, of course, there’s the heat.”

One MRAP specialist in the group was a veteran of previous military deployments to the Persian Gulf.

“This is my first deployment with Maintenance Center Albany, I made deployments to Kuwait and Iraq when I was on active duty in the Army,” said Brian Raper, heavy equipment mechanic, MCA. “Force Protection training was outstanding, the school was very informative. They were very detailed about what they did.”

He also felt the family readiness training was on-target.

“The commander’s briefing they gave here was a real eye-opener for families who have never experienced this before and they came away with some good knowledge,” Raper said.

I think they have very good steps for families and the hardest part of this is on the kids,” added Raper’s wife. “But, we’ll make it.”

One worker leaving on his first deployment said he was ready to go.

“I’m excited, ready to go. It’s going to be a new adventure,” said Richard Creech, heavy equipment mechanic, MCA. “The Force Protection training made us more prepared to do the job than if we hadn’t had it.”

The importance of the deployments was on the mind of MCA officials on-hand at the departure.

“What they do is very important. Obviously, I’m jealous. I’m a Marine and my civilian-Marines are going forward without me,” said Col. Terry W. Reid, commander, MCA. “But they’ve been trained well and they’ll do an outstanding job.”

The departure wasn’t limited to family and MCA officials, the Albany civilian community was there as well.

“We appreciate what the base does for our nation and our community, both from an employment standpoint here, but also in the war on terrorism,” said Leland Burkart, chairman, Military Affairs Committee, Greater Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, after he provided words of encouragement and support to the workers before they boarded a bus to make the journey to Atlanta. From there, workers were scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C., for connections to a flight to Kuwait.

Besides Raper and Creech, those also scheduled to depart were civilian-Marine Andrice Pierre and contractors Robert Taylor, Robert McDonald, Timothy Sadler, Croal Hatcher, Eugene Prince and James Sanderson.

Another similar deployment from MCA is anticipated in September.


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