Building on the blue-green team

1 Aug 2002 | Sgt. Brian J. Griffin 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

A month into deployment and transiting across the Pacific Ocean, one would think it would be hard for the Marines and Sailors of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) to get a specially manufactured part.  Think again.

Deep inside the gray skin of the USS Belleau Wood, hidden behind huge steel doors working amongst machines that shoot metal shavings across the room, are a group of people who love the challenge of making something out of nothing--and forging friendships built on teamwork.

That's music to the ears of Marines from 5th Platoon, 1st Force Reconnaissance, 11th MEU (SOC), who wanted M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon mounts made for their reconnaissance vehicles.

"We wanted to have this part ordered before we left on deployment, but we didn't have the time to buy them," said Sgt. Adam Weber, communicator, 5th Platoon, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, 11th MEU (SOC).

The weapon mount is designed to allow a passenger's weapon to be mounted next to him, allowing him to react quicker and supplement the firepower from the .50 caliber machine gun mounted in the rear of the vehicle.

"I drew up a little diagram of what we needed and what I was looking for," Weber said.

Weber's sketch was good enough for Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Chamblee, repair division, USS Belleau Wood, to begin calculating and designing the part from scratch.

"It's an item that had to be manufactured from imagination; it's not something anyone here had a blueprint for," Chamblee said.  "I just looked at the weapon and took into consideration their suggestions for what they wanted it to do."

After twelve hours of measuring, calculating and cutting, Chamblee had a part that satisfied him.  The product far surpassed the Webers' expectations.

"He took the diagram I drew up and did a 180 with it," said Weber, a Battle Ground, Wash., native. "He took his time and made it ten times better than I had imagined."

Weber asked to have three mounts made, one for each of their vehicles.  But Chamblee will continue to put in the hours, some even on his free time, to make the Marines five mounts.

"I am making them five because there is always a chance that one may be lost or something," said Chamblee, an Albuquerque, N.M., native.  "This way they always have a backup."

For Chamblee and his comrades in the machinist repairman's shop, the mount didn't have to be made.  It's not part of their job requirements.  But helping out a fellow service member was reason enough for them.

"Weber asked me to do this for them and I said 'yes.'  I enjoy this type of work, it lets me use my imagination," Chamblee said.  "This is a skill not everybody can do, so that makes it rewarding when I can help someone else."

As the deployment continues, so does the development of friendship and teamwork between the Marine Corps and Navy, Weber said.

"When it comes down to it, if we're not willing to help them out and they're not willing to help us out, the cohesion and camaraderie between everyone isn't there," Weber said.  "These guys are bending over backwards to make this part for us.  In turn, we will do whatever we can if they ever need anything."

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

Read Biography

Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

Read Biography

Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Read Biography