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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Communications maintenance officer recalls service to country, Corps

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | June 3, 2010

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Communications and leadership are two essential elements the Marine Corps relies on to accomplish its mission.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Batchelor, officer in charge, Communications Support Team Detachment, is no stranger to either.

From Baghdad, Iraq, to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Batchelor has first-hand knowledge of the Marine Corps’ communications equipment gained while serving during Overseas Contingency Operations.

In 2002 Batchelor, then a gunnery sergeant, was assigned to Communications Company, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The following February, Batchelor deployed to Iraq with 1st MARDIV as the company gunnery sergeant/acting company first sergeant for the trek to Baghdad, Iraq.

In March 2003, he crossed the line of departure with the main headquarters battalion and-then Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, commanding general, 1st MARDIV.

During the deployment, Batchelor ensured his Marines had the basics needed to get the job done.

In addition, he took it upon himself to assist Marines throughout the camp with communications related issues, including Marines in the fighting holes. Batchelor also worked out a plan so they could communicate with each other and their commander.

“Communication is the number one thing a Marine needs on the battlefield besides his rifle,” said Batchelor.

After spending a month in Baghdad, Batchelor retrograded to Adwaniyah, Iraq, and then to Kuwait.

Upon leaving Kuwait, he arrived at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was notified, after submitting his eighth package, that he was selected for warrant officer.

After completing the Warrant Officer Basic Course in 2004, he was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd MARDIV, Camp Lejeune, N.C., as the communications electronics maintenance officer.

Batchelor deployed to Iraq once again in February 2005 in what was then called Operation Iraqi Freedom 3. It has since then been re-named OIF 04-06.

Batchelor was assigned to Korean Village, Iraq; about 250 miles from Al Asad, Iraq, near the Syrian and Jordanian border. His mission was to support and repair the communications gear in the light armored vehicles.

However, his role expanded, making him the central point for repairing communications equipment for anyone who needed assistance. He helped out his fellow Marines as well as repaired radios on the Buffalo mine-protected vehicles for the Army National Guard.

In September 2005, Bachelor reported back to 2nd LAR. He was reassigned to 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion, 2nd MARDIV, from June 2006-June 2008. In June 2008 he was transferred to 8th Communications Battalion, II Marine Headquarters Group, where he was slated for retirement in August 2010.

Batchelor then volunteered to be the OIC of CST Det., thus moving his retirement to Dec. 1.

The detachment was established to expedite fulfillment of critical communications equipment shortfalls throughout the Marine Corps. The 20-man detachment is the first of its kind.

The Marines identified, conducted limited technical inspections and sorted communications equipment returning from Overseas Contingency Operations. The equipment is then returned to the in-stores shelves of LOGCOM where they will be available for re-issue to Marine Corps units and training commands.

“The Marine Corps has brought these Marines into one location to do a mission and we have successfully accomplished that mission,” Batchelor said. “We have some of the brightest Marines in today’s Corps and they are phenomenal. I am extremely proud of what they have accomplished and they should be too.”

Batchelor and his Marines put to use an old Marine Corps adage; ‘improvise, adapt and overcome.’

“There was no standard operating procedure where we could just pull it off the shelf and say let’s do it this way,” he said. “We made everything up as we went along.”

It was Batchelor’s leadership and experience that made the mission a success, according to Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Camina, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, CST Det.

“As a leader, he has a rare quality called balance,” Camina said. “Being prior enlisted, he knows when to step in and when to step back and let the staff NCOs do their job. He leads by example and is very hard working.”

He also spoke highly of Batchelor’s knowledge as a communications electronic maintenance officer with his broad spectrum of experiences from depot-level maintenance to the operational level.

“We took the communications community from across three Marine Expeditionary Forces; we spanned two military occupational fields, 0600 (communication operations) and 2800 (communication maintenance) community; and we pulled Marines from across 10 separate military occupational specialties to build this 20-man detachment,” he said.

Batchelor commended his Marines for a job well- done.

“During the 90-day period, this 20-man detachment has done an outstanding job. The Marines used a lot of initiative to complete the mission,” he said. “With little supervision, the Marines came up with a plan to test the equipment. They used some of the equipment found in the tri-walls (boxes) and set up test stations.”

With two deployments to Iraq and his mission completed here, Batchelor said he wanted to see the whole evolution of the communications equipment come full circle.

“I used, maintained and repaired communications equipment in the initial push to Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003, and at the midway point of the war during my deployment to Korean Village, Iraq, in 2005,” he said. “Since I’ve been here at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, the Marine Corps ended its operations in Iraq.”

“I wanted to take the detachment to see if I could recognize some of the equipment I used in Iraq as it came through LOGCOM, identify it and see if it still works. There was a lot of equipment I used in 2003 and 2005 that has come through here that still works,” he said.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see communications equipment operate in a capacity that tested its sheer limits and have witnessed the resourcefulness of the Marines in 2003 and 2005,” he said. “I have seen and experienced the capabilities of the communications equipment from the beginning to the end of the war in Iraq. Not many people can say that. This is the highlight of my career.”


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