Open wide and say "ahh"

8 May 2007 | Sgt. Brian J. Griffin 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines sit in the 'waiting room,' an austere passageway decorated with a single wooden bench. In the room just off to their left, the distinctive sound of a dentist?s drill cuts through the air as a muffled voice can be heard every few minutes asking for a dental pick or suction.Three Sailors-- the dental department of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) -- work here, doing the dental work needed by the 1,300 MEU Marines and Sailors aboard this amphibious assault ship.?We do pretty much all of the specialties in operative dentistry, from fillings and root canals to oral surgery,? said Lt. Mau Nguyen, dental officer, MEU Service Support Group 11, 11th MEU (SOC). ?Basically it?s a continuation of treatment that is provided back in garrison-- everything except crowns and bridges.? Working in quiet rooms buried in the belly of the ship, these dental warriors work day in and day out ensuring all MEU personnel receive quality care and stay up to deployable standards.?Part of being physically fit is being dentally fit,? Nguyen said. ?If a Marine is out in the field and they have a dental problem, they might not be able to shoot straight... or function at 100%. It?s happened where people have had to be medevac?d from the field. We?re here to prevent that from happening, to catch the problem before it becomes a problem.?The ?dental docs? of the 11th MEU catch potential problems by scheduling regular checkups for personnel under their command.?Right now we have a lot of appointments for Marines to get their annual exams,? said DT1 Kristopher Horn, dental technician, MSSG-11, 11th MEU (SOC). ?We want them to stay current and at a deployable status, which is class one or two?the highest dental ratings. It?s important for them to have that rating because if they go to the field, their chances of having a dental emergency drop significantly.?Marines need to have the class one or two rating not only for their own well-being but for their unit?s deployable status as well.?To be deployable the unit itself has to be at 95% or above,? Horn said. ?But we shoot for as high as possible here.?In order to maintain such high standards for the deployable status, the dental department see more than 175 people a month.?We usually see about 40-50 people a week,? Horn said. ?But that?s an average, sometimes more, sometimes less. Today alone we saw 25 people. It just depends on what we?re doing.?The ?dental docs? see their job of providing the 11th MEU (SOC) Marines with dental care as a essential service.?There?s a motto we have. ?Being entrusted with the dental care of Marines and Sailors is a privilege,?? Nguyen said. ?The best we can do is give our best to the Marines and Sailors who are deployed with us.?Lieutenant Nguyen enjoys providing professional care to service members on deployment in addition to traveling around the world.?It?s great being able to travel around with the MEU, providing dental services out in the field, going out and setting up a dental operatory from scratch,? Nguyen said. ?This is fun. That?s the bottom line, it?s fun.?

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.

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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.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarrĀ 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.

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