AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
For two Marine welders with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), creative thinking had a significant, positive impact on security measures here and could continue to benefit both the Corps and the welders in the future.
Sergeant Jason Walsh and Cpl. John James, metal workers with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, put their heads together and modeled a bracket piece needed to mount security equipment on perimeter tower buildings aboard the air base.
The bracket solved a problem security forces ran into when they attempted to mount cameras, satellites and other security equipment on the rooftops of the towers. The tower tops were made of a thin metal which gave way when heavy equipment was mounted on it.
When approached with the problem, Walsh and James measured the rooftops, gathered data about the weight of the gear needing mounted, analyzed the information and chalked up a design on the welding shop floor.
The Marines had to take into consideration the positioning on the tower, strengths of the tower, how to brace the brackets along with many more factors, explained Walsh, a 23-year-old native of Pomona, N.Y.
In a day’s worth of brainstorming, they created a solution to the problem.
“I let my Marines think outside the box, I encourage them to use their own brains and not think that they can’t make it work,” said Gunnery Sgt. Fredrick Moyer, heavy equipment staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “They’ll make it work.”
With the walls of the towers made of steel, Walsh and James determined “A” and “T” shaped brackets which stretched across the roof would effectively distribute the weight of the gear and allow for mounting on the towers.
“These brackets are extremely important because if they didn’t have them, then they wouldn’t be able to put the radars and cameras on top of the towers which would extremely weaken base security,” said James.
Along with the ten brackets the welders have made so far, they also constructed stairs to facilitate access to the roofs for contractors who must mount and maintain the security equipment.
James’ experience with welding prior to joining the Corps lends to his excitement about his job as a Marine.
“We work with many kinds of metal from steel to aluminum,” said James. “We make repairs to anything made out of metal and we can fabricate almost anything out of metal.”
Welding requires metal workers to be knowledgeable in the areas of geometry for cutting shapes and configuring lengths and angles. Also, different metals require different degrees of heat in order to weld to other metals and materials, explained Walsh, so welders must have an understanding of the chemistry involved with manipulating metal.
“I like being a welder because I get to work with my hands and make anything I want out of steel,” said James. “My imagination is my limit.”
While both of them enjoy their job, both knew in high school they wanted to join the military.
“I was set on joining the Marine Corps,” said James. “It’s a sense of honor and I wanted to make myself better.”
Walsh claims his promotion to sergeant as his greatest professional achievement thus far.
“I always aspired to be in the military,” said Walsh. “Having responsibility makes you strive to be a better person and take on new challenges.”
The Marines expect to return to Okinawa, Japan in October.
With the encouragement of the contractors and the squadron, the welders look forward to patenting their idea.