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Marines pitch in to refit battalion's gear lost in fire

14 Jul 2004 | Sgt. Jose L. Garcia

Fitting Marines for a fight is a challenge enough, but supply Marines at Regimental Combat Team 7 are working overtime to refit Marines after losing gear to a fire here July 7.

A fire ripped through the camp, burning several tents and the Marines' gear, everything from packs to uniforms.

Other supply warehouses pitched in and helped equip the Marines with gear and other personal items.  Marines from Combat Service Support Battalion 7, Marine Aircraft Group 16, and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment were among the contributors. 

"All this came together within a 24-hour period by word of mouth," said 2nd Lt. Frank Sierra, a 28-year-old supply officer for RCT-7 from Odessa, Texas.

According to Sierra, Marines donated personal items once the word got out and were quick to respond to the crisis. 

"All the units were very generous in helping us out," Sierra said. "It just kept raining on us.  Our lot was full of stuff we got and more kept coming.  We had no place to put it." 

Sierra also contacted battalions through e-mails and phone calls and to gather items he didn't have stocked.

"What struck me was how the Marine Corps is a family, a band of brothers," Sierra said. "It really put us to the test.  Units showered us with gifts.  Marines gave us personal belongings.  All the donations came from the Marines. Marines take care of each other."

Supply Marines worked all night issuing gear and making sure the battalion had a complete gear issue.

"The Marines were combat ineffective when they lost all their gear," said Lance Cpl. Ricky Y. Muenzer, 21, from St. Louis, Mo., and supply clerk with RCT-7.  "I knew we would be working long hours to get them what they needed.  We had to have them combat effective.  I was stressed and tired, but angry that I couldn't help them fast enough to get them going."

According to Sierra, the time was the obstacle.  Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment were relieved by Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.  The incoming Marines were needed on the line. 

The problem was identified and fixed.  Since one battalion was replacing another, the Marines did a one-for-one swap. 

Sierra said he was pleased with the way his Marines responded to the situation and the way it was handled. 

"It tested our capability with supply and I was really happy with my Marines and proud of them," Sierra said.  "They showed their capability." 

Sierra also credited Army and Air Force Exchange personnel for helping out and keeping doors opened late.

"The PX was almost closed, but the Marines and civilians who work there stayed after hours and gave me what I needed," Sierra said. 

Sierra and his Marines spent $11,700 for PX items. They purchased items including towels, t-shirts, socks, tennis shoes, shower shoes and hygiene gear.

"I've never seen this kind of teamwork in my shop before," Muenzer said. "Everyone just stopped what they were doing to help the Marines out."

"Everything that a Marine needs to survive out here, they had in a day and a half," said Cpl. Roderick Totton, a 29-year-old from Detroit and the supply warehouse noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "By the end of the week the Marines were out training again."