Thursday, May 14, 2009

Electro-optical ordinance repairman: providing a better sight to the battlefield

story and photos by Cpl. Robert C. Medina

USS NEW ORLEANS (May 16, 2009) – When Marines are conducting operations it is important they are able to see, especially when it is dark or in smoky conditions. One Marine, assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 13, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit has this responsibility—assisting Marines to see on the battlefield.

Sgt. Felix A. Cervantes is an electro-optical ordinance repairman, one of four with Maintenance Detachment, CLB-13, who works hard to keep Marines’ optics operational aboard USS New Orleans (LPD 18).

“My job is the repair of all optical gear, anything that you can sight through on a weapon or vehicle,” said Cervantes from Crown Point, Ind. “We can work on rifle scopes, thermo imagery on rifles and a variety of missile systems.”

Cervantes said he has a broad range of responsibilities with all the different types of optics on the many weapon systems carried by Marines.

“We help out everyone across the Battalion Landing Team (BLT). Anything that’s optical, damaged, broken or that needs to be looked at, they all come to us,” said Cervantes. “The Marines need to see what they are aiming in at and that’s what we do, most of our operations are done at night so you can see how important it is to have working gear.”

Cervantes said the Marine Corps has new gear coming out all the time, and that every quarter it seems as if his job field is giving classes on new gear that has potential to be sent to them.

“We also go and inspect the new gear to give our approval before it is fielded to the Marines,” said Cervantes.

With almost six years in the Marine Corps, Cervantes enjoys what he does. He joined the Marine Corps to do the very thing he is doing, fixing optical gear.

“When I came in I wanted to do something electrical and something with maintenance,” said Cervantes. “I’m happy with what I do.”

Sgt. Mark Greene, assistant maintenance chief with the Amphibious Assault Vehicle platoon attached to BLT 1/1, 13th MEU, said Cervantes is a great asset to support the battalion.

“We have been working with him since February of 2008 during our work-up cycles,” said Greene from Black Mountain, N.C. “He would come down and test our M36E3 sights before we use them. He not only is an asset to us, but to the other units that uses optic capabilities.”

Cervantes says to him, it is important to be that go-to guy. He wants to be the person they call when nobody else can fix the problem.

“He is the guy to go to—he has the knowledge to take care of the equipment,” said Greene. “If you have an issue, he is the man to talk to.”

Greene said he has the reassurance of knowing that the equipment is going to work if Cervantes worked on it.

“When it comes to detailed work on the [weapon] sight he is the guy who has the know-how to take care of it,” Green said. “We can’t shoot unless we have someone like him to take care of our sights—he is a big asset to us.”

“I wouldn’t want to go to anyone else but him.”

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