CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan --
Over 2,000 Marines depend on these guys: few missions are possible without them. Marines like Cpl. Beau Brummel can coax a Humvee’s engine to a roaring start and Sgt. Matthew Green can ensure a radio signal is loud and clear. Infantrymen confidently use weaponry Staff Sgt. Patrick Hubbard has fixed and drink the clean water Sgt. Duran Ritche has provided from water purification systems.
These four Marines make up a small portion of maintenance platoon, Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and they provide support for ordnance, communications, engineering and motor transport requirements.
“We all have our piece (to fulfill), but maintenance has such an intricate part (to play) because without us the trucks aren’t going to go anywhere, the artillery is not going to get their (mission) done,” said Hubbard, the ordnance chief with maintenance platoon, CLB 31. “Maintenance, as a whole, is literally the backbone of everything that happens.”
The maintenance Marines are constantly busy on Camp Hansen or on ship, whether rushing to prepare for an upcoming deployment or fixing gear in the thick of an exercise so the mission can continue.
The Marines have a large array of equipment because they support not only the CLB-31, but the MEU’s ground combat element - Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines - and command element as well.
“It’s up-tempo,” said Cpl. Beau Brummel, an automotive maintenance technician with maintenance platoon, CLB-31. “We have to make our mission. When you work here you know what hard work is!”
Any piece of gear the 31st MEU needs to accomplish a mission, ranging from Light Armored Vehicles to a high frequency radios, maintenance Marines have to know how to repair.
At times, some of the larger projects have to wait until the 31st MEU is on Camp Hansen but the maintenance Marines still need to troubleshoot and push out gear quickly while in the field, away from their fully-equipped workshop.
“The guys here do hands-on work; rarely do Marines get the opportunity to go to a field environment and work on different equipment,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Verdon Antoine, maintenance officer with maintenance platoon and a native of Simmesport, Louisiana. “(Because) the BLT comes in and uses the equipment, we need to be ready for a real world contingency.”
The section leaders can deploy only a handful of personnel on patrols or split the sections if there are multiple ships, and there are limitations with the gear they can take with them.
“We have to do more with less,” said Hubbard, a native of Albany, New York. “We are versatile. We have to work field-expedient style.”
While other Marines may have down time following training events or exercises with the 31st MEU, the work for maintenance Marines never stops because of the requirement to make sure the equipment is working.
“We have more issues regularly just because gear gets used (all the time),” said Brummel, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. “We are prepared for anything; no other (place) could throw so many different scenarios at you.”
With a team of resourceful and reliable mechanics, technicians and engineers, maintenance platoon makes sure the 31st MEU is able to complete its mission wherever they go.
The Marines and sailors of CLB-31 are permanently assigned to the 31st MEU as the logistics combat element and are conducting pre-deployment preparations for the regularly-scheduled Spring Patrol of the Asia-Pacific region.