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Cpl. Matt G. Pelkey, a machinist with Battalion Maintenance, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion Regimental Combat Team 5, drills a hole in the center of a metal rod to create a welding hose connector at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, April 25. The machinists speed up the process of acquiring parts and tools by obtaining pieces of scrap metal and turning them into useful items for maintenance on light armored vehicles and other tools.

Photo by Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

Machinists accelerate operations

28 Apr 2008 | Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

When maintenance supplies are unavailable, these Marines are here to pick up the slack.

Machinists with Battalion Maintenance, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, assist the battalion by obtaining pieces of scrap metal and transforming it into useful items for maintenance on light armored vehicles and other tools.

“In the logistics field, it’s virtually impossible for supply to acquire some tools or objects in country,” said Gunnery Sgt. John E. Fischer, platoon sergeant for Battalion Maintenance. “We provide the ability to fabricate items and prevent delays in the operations because of the unavailability of parts.”

The Marines work in a trailer containing a large portable machine called the “Tornado,” which Fischer described as resembling a large hot dog stand. They ensure Marines have the parts they need to make repairs or to create parts for anything from a vehicle to a weapons system.

The machine is set up like a reverse drill, where the object is held by a rotating clamp called the “Chuck.” The metal is forcibly penetrated by either a borer or a sharp blade.

“I could make anything from nuts and bolts to hammers and springs for the LAV,” said Cpl. Matt G. Pelkey, 21, a machinist with Battalion Maintenance from Dayton, Ohio. “The only thing I haven’t been able to make is a perfect ball, other than that there are no limitations with this machine.”

The machinist military occupational specialty is amongst one of the smallest in the Marine Corps, consisting of less than 200 members. Although the MOS is small, the pride always overshadows it.

“I love it when people look to you for a lot of things they need,” said Fischer, 43. “We are utilized a lot when emergencies happen, so we use all of our skills to keep those Marines on operations.”

He said it makes him feel great as a machinist when he successful creates a product.

The Marine machinists will continue their efforts by supporting 2nd LAR and other units aboard Camp Korean Village, Iraq, for the duration of the battalion’s deployment and its missions.

“We are here to support the men that use the weapons to protect their country,” said Fischer, from Walnut Creek, Calif. “To create something that makes their job easier is the fulfillment of my job.”


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