MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Working at home as a civilian supporting the war effort is one thing. But leaving home and actually going to war as part of a military/civilian team takes things to another level.
That didn’t stop 15 civilian employees and four Marines at Maintenance Center Albany who volunteered to go to Iraq as a team to modify and update Improvised Explosive Device Rollers that were originally built at MCA.
The device is designed to detonate IEDs before a vehicle rolls over them, and in doing so, save lives. The roller, fitted with several sets of humvee tires, extends out in front of a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, which is armored both at MCA and in the war zones.
“Between the mine roller and the MTVR, the Marines really like the amount of protection they get,” said Blaze Goodman, manager of the project section at MCA, as he stood among the family and friends gathered at MCA for the homecoming Feb. 22.
Two Marines on the team went to Iraq September 2006 and two additional Marines and the 15 civilians arrived in Iraq between December 2006 and January 2007.
“We’re proud of all the civilians and Marines who work at the maintenance center, and we all feel a real sense of pride for these guys who didn’t have to go, but they know the mission and volunteered to go there and support the Marines,” said Goodman.
When Ray Lindsey, a civilian employee at MCA, stepped off the bus at the homecoming, his wife Joan and 13-month-old granddaughter Anne Marie were there to greet him.
“It was satisfying work when you get to help keep somebody alive. What you do is help keep somebody’s loved one alive,” Lindsey said.
Lance Cpl. Cash Austin Miles Burthold, an MCA-based Marine, got a sense of mission from the work.
“It sure makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger,” Burthold said. “We got to see and meet Marines whose lives were saved by this mine roller. It’s an amazing feeling and they’re so appreciative. It makes your chest stick out ten times more than usual.”
Wilt Jones, an MCA employee, got off the bus to see his wife Jessica and four children waiting.
“I’m happy to be home. Working with the Marines was a good feeling. There are a lot of good guys over there,” Jones said.
“I was very proud of him stepping up and volunteering to go to a place most people would run away from. What’s not to be proud of?” Jessica gushed.
Jones’ daughter Joplin added that she was proud that her father was “over there, but I’m glad he’s back.”