MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Engineer equipment electrical systems technicians with Combat Logistics Company 11, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, provide a valuable service to units aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.
The technicians of CLC-11, commonly referred to as generator mechanics, provide a way to power communications equipment, medical equipment, lights, air conditioning and heat among other necessities by repairing the gear other units can’t fix themselves.
“Other shops do a lot of the preventive maintenance and smaller repairs for the generators the Marine Corps uses,” said Lance Cpl. Gus O’Brien, a generator mechanic with CLC-11 and a Sacramento, Calif., native. “When there are larger repairs to be done, like replacing the fuel injector or replacing electrical components, that is where I come in. I fix the equipment as fast as I can, while doing it right, so the units have what they need to accomplish their own missions.”
Some of those missions require generators that are ready to use when Marines with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and MCAS Miramar need power to set up ground refueling points and airfields for aircraft to land safely.
Before any work begins, technicians look over a technical manual to see what they can do with broken equipment. The technicians strictly adhere to the manual because it provides standard operating procedures for them to do their job, guidance on repairs, and determines who can repair certain portions of the systems.
Generator mechanics attend the Marine Corps Engineer School in Courthouse Bay, Camp Lejeune, N.C., for more than five months to learn about the different generators used in the Marine Corps.
While in school, Marines learn troubleshooting skills, electrical theory and concepts, organizational and intermediate repair techniques and mechanical skills – all of the skills necessary to make them an asset in the Marine Corps.
By the end of the course, students have a basic understanding of the components in the generators and understand how they work, making it easier to work on the gear.
“I love the feeling I get from knowing exactly how these generators work,” said O’Brien. “I can listen to a generator and tell you what might be wrong with it, look into it and say, ‘yep, I was right. Right here is the problem.’”
While deployed, Marines like O’Brien can provide repairs and prolong the use of generators responsible for powering equipment used in operations and missions for several months.
During his own deployment, it was O’Brien’s job to ensure the generators ran the way they needed and deciding how much power was needed to get the job done – a duty that could be thankless at times, according to O’Brien.
“Sometimes people don’t think about where their power comes from and who is behind keeping their equipment in the fight,” said O’Brien. “Senior ranking individuals would come up to me and tell me they needed power for this, that and the other thing, and I would have to explain to them what our capabilities were at the time and come to a compromise on what I could get running for them. It was a lot of responsibility but it helped me grow, so I’m very thankful for it.”
When Marines go into the field and are receiving the power they need to accomplish the mission, they can thank generator mechanics like O’Brien for their diligence in keeping their diesel power sources up and running.