USS ESSEX, At sea --
The ability to look at problems in a different way, and then solve them when no one else could is what earned him the nickname, “Rain Man.”
Named after the title character of the 1988 movie for his brilliance in solving technical issues, Sgt. Collin J. Walter, a data network specialist with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, helps keep his unit connected with the world.
Walter and his communications Marines fix everything from networking issues to problems with applications and hardware in the hundreds of government computers used by the 31st MEU.
“When Sgt. Walter troubleshoots an issue, the rest of us in the office will be looking at it one way, and he will come up looking at it in a completely different way than everybody else,” said Gunnery Sgt. Justin Aumiller, the data systems chief of the 31st MEU. “Then out of nowhere, he will be like, ‘it’s clearly this.”
Aumiller, a native of Springfield Ill., went on to explain that Walter’s intelligence is like that of the character played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie The Rainman, because Walter has the ability to look at things that are trivial to his Marines and a little hard for them to understand, and solve them almost instantly.
Before joining the Marine Corps, Walter rarely worked with computers, and only used them at his grandparents’ house to play games.
Since enlisting more than four years ago, and working eight to twelve hour per day on computer issues, Walters’s skills have drastically improved.
“Everything I know about computers I learned in the Marine Corps,” said Walter, a native of Virginia Beach, Va. “I enlisted to do this job and I really enjoy it.”
Although Walter intends to end his active service with the Marine Corps, he knows the efforts put forth during his time with the 31st MEU will not be forgotten anytime soon.
“As a data Marine, he is one of the best I have had in a long time,” said Aumiller. “It’s not just that he does this job because it’s his job; he does it because he loves it. It’s very apparent he enjoys what we do, to him this is a passion, and he’s very good at it.”
Aumiller went on to say that Walters’s efforts for the MEU are critical, not only on the USS Essex, but throughout Amphibious Squadron 11, because in everything the communications Marines have accomplished, Walter has been a key player.
“When someone else can’t get it done or doesn’t know the answer or can’t figure it out, Walters is the go to guy,” said Aumiller.
In addition to solving the technical issues for the 31st MEU, Walter spends his time teaching his Marines the skills of his trade by providing classes on how to fix issues, helping them improve as technicians.
“There is a lot that I have learned from him, and a lot that I can still learn from him,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Cordero, a data systems specialist with the 31st MEU. “Right now he is taking me under his wing and showing me how to handle everything that’s come my way.”
As the 31st MEU continues its patrol of the Asia-Pacific region, Walters’ command is happy knowing that he will continue to use his unique abilities to train Marines.
“A lot of other Marines don’t have that ability to articulate what they’re doing on a level that other Marines can understand,” said Aumiller. “That is priceless, and a valuable tool that I’m going to miss. Some day he will probably be making better money than I do.”
The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.