USS DENVER, At Sea --
When it comes to outstanding technicians, Best Buy has the “Geek Squad,” the Apple Store has its “geniuses,” and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit has Josh Fenstermaker.
Corporal Fenstermaker is a data technician for the Command Element, 31st MEU, but is currently serving as the data communications chief aboard one of three ships deployed with the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group. He holds this billet of responsibility, normally reserved for a staff non-commissioned officer, because of his exceptional skills and composure.
“He is a poised and confident individual, he doesn’t get unsettled,” said 1st Lt. Richard G. Sykes, the communications platoon commander for the CE, 31st MEU, and a native of St. Louis, Mo. “He’s never too hot, never too cold and he doesn’t let things bother him. That’s what you need from that supervisory position.”
Since boarding the ship one week ago and assuming the role of data chief, Fenstermaker has supervised a team in the creation of a data network that supports hundreds of Marines and sailors from all four elements of the 31st MEU’s Marine Air Ground Task Force. It is through his response to the operational demands across the MAGTF, often from Marines superior in rank, that Fenstermaker demonstrates his composure.
The demands of being chief have added challenges to an already complicated job. A data technician’s normal duties include building servers, imaging hard drives, running cables, managing accounts, troubleshooting and more. But Fenstermaker has never viewed his regular duties as difficult.
“(Being a data technician) isn’t hard in itself, it’s a matter of effort,” said Fenstermaker, a native of Columbus, Ohio. “If you care about your work, it can be easy.”
Making the work look “easy” has earned Fenstermaker a reputation among the Marines in the communications platoon. It is common practice for the data technicians to refer Marines with complicated issues to Fenstermaker. And if they are having trouble solving issues on their own, they turn to him.
“He is the most knowledgeable Marine we have when it comes to anything data related,” said Lance Cpl. Michael A. Degregorio, a data technician for the CE, 31st MEU, and a native of Merrimack, N.H. “If we go to him, the problem always gets resolved.”
Participating in the unit’s regularly scheduled Spring Patrol, Fenstermaker is beginning his fourth deployment as a part of the Marine Corps’ force in readiness for the Asia-Pacific region. Building and maintaining data communications at sea as a leader of Marines, the 26-year-old has come a long way from installing cable in Columbus.