Photo Information

Cpls. David A. McLean (top) and Justin D. Schoonover troubleshoot a faulty Personnel Radio Component (AN/PRC-119) during a radio operations class inside the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit's radio bay. Schoonover, from Mint Hill N.C., said the class is designed as refresher training for Marines from both communications and other military occupational specialties who have little or no experience operating the radio. The training is part of the 11th MEU's preparation for their upcoming deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism later this year. McLean is a computer technician and Schoonover is a field radio operator and instructor from communication platoon, command element, 11th MEU.

Photo by Cpl. Scott M. Biscuiti

Comm Marines teach radio class loud and clear

29 Mar 2007 | Public Affairs 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Whether calling in air support to destroy a dug-in enemy, calling in a helicopter for an emergency medical evacuation, or simply calling to let Marines know that chow is on the way, radio operation is a necessary and vital skill all Marines and Sailors must know.

Radio communication is the main mode to pass important information in the military and the Personnel Radio Component (AN/PRC-119) is the Corps' radio of choice, said Cpl. Justin D. Schoonover to a handful of Marines from the11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s command element during a radio operations class at the command element radio bay March 29.

“Without (communications) no one knows what’s going on,” said Schoonover, a field radio operator and instructor with communications platoon

Schooner, from Mint Hill, N.C., said the purpose of the class was to strengthen the skills of operators and maintenance Marines from the communication platoon and teach Marines from other occupational fields basic radio operation procedures.

Marines never know when a crisis situation will strike. They have "to be ready to step up and use this radio effectively," said Schoonover.

During the class, Marines also learned about the radio's components, capabilities, basic radio transmission concepts, and how to prepare the radio for secure operation.

Cpl. David A. McLean, a computer technician and sometimes radio repairman, from Lawton, Okla., is more familiar with the inner workings of the radio and is used to seeing it in pieces. McLean, the self-proclaimed "E.R. doctor for communications equipment," said he took the class to give him a different perspective on the radio. Learning how the radio operates will help him be a better technical troubleshooter, he said.

Field radio operators like Lance Cpl. Howard L. Graves, from Alexandria, Va., and Lance Cpl. Thomas M. Farnesworth, from St. George, Utah, sat in the class to strengthen their skills. Graves, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran with two-and-a-half years of communications experience under his belt, was also there to assist Schoonover and to coach the less-experienced students during the practical application portion of the class. Graves previously served in a technical control center in Fallujah, Iraq, where he helped provide phone communication capabilities to Iraqi civilians filing claims with the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters. He also helped to build and maintain unclassified and classified voice and data communication networks.

Farnesworth, who has been in the Corps for more than a year, is taking part in his first deployment with a MEU. He said he attended the radio class to prepare himself as much as possible for the unexpected. Although the class was basic, Farnesworth said he did learn something new.

Basic classes like these and all training in general, benefit Marines because they instill confidence and reduce anxiety by transforming some of that apprehension into enthusiasm, said Staff Sgt. Michael L. Webb, the command element radio chief. 

After the class, Farnesworth agreed and was philosophical about the MEU's upcoming deployment and eagerly embraced the unknown. "There's something exciting about being deployed and not knowing what to expect. Of things being up in the air," he said.

Farnesworth said he does not know what the future holds in store, if he will ever use his skills in combat or find himself in a crisis situation. What he does know, is that the skills he learned in this class have helped prepare him for whatever lay ahead.

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
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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
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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
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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.

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