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Communications Marines keep service members connected in Afghanistan

By Lance Cpl. Kenneth Jasik , 1st Marine Logistics Group

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Nov. 19, 2010 — CENTCOM

Sgt. Jacqulyn A. Garza and Sgt. Johnny T. Edwards test radios at Camp Leatherneck, Afganistan, Nov. 6. The communications Marines are responsible for maintaining radio, phone and computer equipment so Marines from 1st MLG (FWD) stay connected with each other and their families back home. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Jasik)

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (Nov. 19, 2010) — Without the sophisticated communications systems necessary for messages to securely travel long distances, many Marines and sailors would simply be lost in the fog of war. These systems need to be assembled and maintained though, which is where communications Marines come in.

The Marines of the Communications Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) keep Marines and sailors’ lines of communication running so leaders can pass their orders and also give service members a chance to keep in touch with their loved ones back home. The Marines spend a lot of time setting up and maintaining radios, computers and telephones. If something breaks, they get it working again as quickly as possible.

“We keep all the bases for communication covered,” said Lance Cpl. Caleb D. Crossgrove, a field wireman with Communications Platoon, H&S Co., 1st MLG (FWD). “If anything goes down, we work around the clock until it gets fixed.”

“Secure communications are key,” said 1st Lt. Elizabeth Amezcua, the officer in charge of Communications Platoon, Headquarters &Services Co., 1st MLG (FWD). “Everyone relies on computers and technology. Without us, the (commanding general) cannot command and control (1st MLG [FWD]).”

The communications Marines enjoy the challenge of maintaining a complex communications network and keeping 1st MLG (FWD) Marines and sailors connected not only to other service members, but also connected to their families back home.

“We get everyone back in the fight as far as e-mail is concerned,” said Cpl. Theodore J. Norred, a networking noncommissioned officer with Communications Platoon, H&S Co., 1st MLG (FWD), 21, from Burnet, Texas. “If our switches go off, e-mail and internet both go down.”

The Marines keep constant surveillance over their networks so they can be the first responders to any major malfunctions. They also run help desk operations to support any problems that service members may have with their communications equipment.

“It takes a lot of moving parts and a lot of hard work from the Marines,” said Amezcua, 29, from San Diego.

“I really like this job,” said Crossgrove, 20, from Waynesville Ohio. “It is hard and rewarding. In the end, you were the one who kept everybody connected.”