ABOARD THE USS BELLEAU WOOD -- 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."