RUTBAH, Iraq --
And then there was light.
Utility Marines with Support Platoon, Company B, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 routinely aid the platoon in construction efforts throughout the al-Anbar province.
The utility Marines with the platoon consist of two generator mechanics and two electricians who are currently supporting the platoon in the construction of two traffic control points near Rutbah, Iraq.
The Marines are providing the TCP with electricity for the future Marines and Iraqi Police who will be checking vehicles and personnel as they pass through the TCP.
“We are providing power to the (buildings) at the TCPs and the electrical wiring, including outlets, lights and air conditioning units at the TCPs,” said Sgt. Alejandro R. Castellano, 37, maintenance chief, Support Platoon. “Our utilities goal out here is to provide better living conditions at the TCPs.”
“The TCPs are a great addition to the city of Rutbah to help the Coalition forces and improve the safety and security of the citizens throughout the city with Marines and Iraqi Police working together,” said Lance Cpl. Dmitri R. Murray, 19, an electrician with Support Platoon, from Chester, Penn., who is on his first deployment.
Including their utility duties within the platoon, the utility Marines have also helped with electrical problems at Combat Outpost Rutbah, and aided in other platoon functions.
“While here with Tango Battery 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, we have been helping with tasks and troubleshooting problems they have. We’re taking advantage of our presence here,” said Castellano, who is on his third deployment.
“I didn’t only do my job at the TCP, but also helped out building other parts of the TCP as well,” said Lance Cpl. Steven G. Aguirre, 20, electrician with Support Platoon, from Newark, N.J., who is on his first deployment. “When any section needs help, we are there to support them in any way we can from providing security to putting up (barriers).”
Apart from their responsibilities with the platoon, the utility Marines also support RCT-5 with electrical and generator troubleshooting at Camp Ripper.
“We support RCT-5 with all generator maintenance and electrical missions that are tasked to us. We go from wiring (buildings) to troubleshooting all types of electrical malfunctions,” said Castellano, who is from Fairfax, Va. “We provide power to RCT-5’s Combat Operations Center, and we have generator mechanics with our line platoons who are doing various missions throughout the area of operations.”
Castellano, who initially opted to leave the Marine Corps earlier this year, decided to re-enter active duty in order to pass on his knowledge to his junior Marines who haven’t deployed before.
“All my Marines have never deployed before and that’s one of the reasons I came back on active duty,” said Castellano. “(I) wanted to pass on the experience I have been able to gain in the Marine Corps so they can become more proficient in the utilities field and are able to lead Marines on future deployments and become future mentors themselves.”
One such Marine who volunteered for this deployment one week after completing his Military Occupational Specialty school greatly appreciates Castellano’s decision to return to the utilities field.
“I have learned a lot since I have been here,” said Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Kackos, 20, generator mechanic with Support Platoon, from New Franklin, Mo. “I have had the chance to cross train as an electrician while wiring up the (buildings) and have been fortunate enough to have a great mentor, which I think has set me up to be a better leader.”
The utility Marines have their hands full with responsibilities on many different fronts, but will continue to provide service that is essential to the mission of RCT-5 for the duration of their deployment.