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Lance Cpl. Thomas R. Hunter sits back in a bench that he made for his 'Gurus' woodshed May 16, 2006, in Al Asad, Iraq. Hunter, a native of Tacoma, Wash., is a combat engineer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Hunter is augmented to Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 for the duration of his deployment and serves as an engineer operations clerk.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Roach

MWHS-3 Marine finds sanctity in life while deployed to Al Asad

17 May 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Roach

Content in the solitude of a miniature half wood, half vinyl tent fortress and wrapped up in numerous '80s one hit wonders, a Marine deployed to Iraq finds peace in life working with lumber and power tools.

Although riddled with an extensive workload, Lance Cpl. Thomas R. Hunter, a native of Tacoma, Wash., finds time to make it out to his 'Guru's' work shed to pass the time.

This combat engineer by trade is augmented to Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, from his home unit, Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), for his deployment.

"While with MWHS-3 for the deployment, I am an engineer operations clerk," said Hunter. "I control generator deployments, make repairs around our offices, coordinate work with civilian contractors and I decide where the concrete barriers go around the base."

Along with his standard job, Hunter has to do the many other jobs that are commonly tasked to almost every junior Marine in the Corps.

"I also clean the vehicles and our office as well as every little task that can be given to lance corporals," said Hunter.

"I think this is a very good learning experience for Hunter," said Gunnery Sgt. Tovia S. Faalogo, engineer chief, MWHS-3. "Being this fresh in the Corps and seeing how operations are conducted from the higher level will better prepare him for his future."

Ironically, the 21-year-old optimist never tried his skills as a carpenter until joining the Corps in June 2003.

"I was supposed to be an avionics technician," said Hunter as he explained his love for helicopters and his want to fly. "I can't complain though, because I love my job."

Although unable to fulfill his desires to work on aircraft, the third of seven children could not be any happier about his one-year deployment and his current job.

"I love that we are helping out another country," said Hunter. "Iraq, at the time, did not have the means to help themselves."

Proud of his country and his service to Iraq, Hunter understands that if he didn't have a hobby, life here could be long and hard.

"When I am in the woodshed I become lost in my work," said the slender, boyish-looking Marine. "I enjoy the work. It helps make the time go by faster."

His wood working expertise can be seen throughout the base. He has constructed many signs, gear crosses and odds and ends for many offices and individual service members.

"I like building things for other people," he said. "I like seeing my work being used every day."

Hunter, a shy, soft-spoken Marine, takes pride in his work even though no one really knows all he has done around the base. He handles all the generator installations in hardstand buildings as well as keeping an up-to-date list of what is working and what is broken.

"I used to get in the woodshed a lot after work," Hunter said. "Due to the heavy operational demand as of late, I have not had a chance."

Having worked with the Combat Assault Battalion and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Hunter is no stranger to working long hours at a fast pace.

"When I was with the MEU from December 2003 to June 2004, we participated in Exercise Cobra Gold 2004," stated Hunter. "It was a joint service exercise where we put in a lot of hours with little rest."

To Hunter, rest is oblivious. This motivated Marine works for sometimes 14 to 18 hours a day, whether it is supporting operations or supporting his never ending quest for personal peace.
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing