September 26, 2013 --
The final two Marine Depot Maintenance Command civilian-Marines supporting Overseas Contingency Operations arrived at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport Friday, marking an end to more than five years of logistics support.
Fred W. Miller, theater lead, Forward Branch, MDMC, spent nearly five years providing mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle support in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq while James Burris, heavy mobile equipment mechanic leader, Forward Branch, spent the past year in Afghanistan.
Family members, civilian-Marines, members of the Marine Corps League and Col. Jeffrey Q. Hooks, commander, MDMC, welcomed the men home.
“I’m just happy to be back with the hospitality, the fellowship, keying off good friends and not having to worry about watching our backs,” Miller said. “There are bad guys out there. We still have warfighters out there continuing the effort.”
Miller, a retired Marine, was responsible for the welfare and safety of each civilian-Marine in addition to the quality and production of all MRAPs.
“What the helicopter was in Vietnam, the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle is going to be for (operations) Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom,” he said.
Miller described the MRAP vehicles as “big hunkering lugs,” designed to protect ground troops from enemy improvised explosive devices.
Burris was responsible for inspecting the quality and production of his employees’ work on the MRAPs at Forward Operating Base Shank and Camp Leatherneck both in Afghanistan.
Burris called his homecoming “refreshing.”
“We had a great crew over there,” Burris said. “For me, it was an honor to spend time with the folks over there and to support the Marine mission. I’d do it again.”
Miller and Burris were the last of nearly 150 MDMC personnel who deployed in support of operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn throughout the last five years, according to Sal DeMichael, manager, Forward Branch, MDMC.
DeMichael said the return of Miller and Burris marks the end of an important mission.
Since 2008, Marine Corps Logistics Command and MDMC have been involved in ensuring warfighters were equipped with MRAPs and providing support to the Joint Program Office, according to Bobbie Sherman, supervisor, Forward Branch, MDMC.
The JPO was established to receive materials used in the construction and equipping of MRAPs to become mission capable and sent into Iraq , he said.
“For more than five years, we have provided resources to ensure warfighters receive the best in maintenance by supplying journey level mechanics to Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan,” Sherman said.
“During each campaign, we have imbedded mechanics with units in Iraq, and performed mechanic work and supervision for the MRAP Sustainment Facility in Kuwait and government oversight in (quality assurance) and (quality control) in Afghanistan.”
According to Sherman, the civilian-Marine mechanics worked on every variant of the MRAP the Caiman, Cougar, Buffalo and mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicle.
“Our mechanics have become the subject matter experts on these vehicles,” Sherman said. “They returned thousands of fullymission-capable mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles back to the troops from the MRAP Sustainment Facility in Kuwait.”
Sherman said the mechanics ensured each vehicle was subjected to the highest quality of maintenance.
“The opportunity given to us at Marine Depot Maintenance Command to participate in supporting the warfighter abroad was an honor and a privilege,” DeMichael said. “The Marine Depot Maintenance Command motto is ‘What you do every day is important, a Marine’s life may depend on it,’ and it is etched in the minds of every person who deployed in support of Overseas Contingency Operations.”