MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- "The next time the gear is used, it will be by a Marine in combat." This phrase is posted throughout the unit marshaling area as a reminder of the importance of the equipment Marines are handling.
More than 100 service members from 1st Marine Logistics Group and other units throughout the base work together at the UMA under the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Deployment and Distribution Operations Center, I Marine Expeditionary Force, to support the deployed troops.
Since Nov. 16, Marines and sailors at the UMA have been receiving, inspecting, certifying and packaging all equipment for embarkation to support the Marine Expeditionary Brigade operations in Afghanistan. The service members have been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep up with the heavy workflow.
"Marines are Marines, you give them a task and they will accomplish it no matter what units they are comprised of," said Master Sgt. Edward R. Villella, UMA lot assistant staff noncommissioned officer in charge with MDDOC, MHG, I-MEF. "They understand the importance of what our mission here at the UMA is and give 100 percent effort."
The UMA has been receiving a steady flow of gear from operational units throughout Marine Corps Installations – West. Units have been delivering a variety of gear to include 7-ton trucks, Tractor, Rubber-tired, Articulated steering, Multi-purpose vehicles, communication equipment, mechanic tools and tents.
"All the gear we're sending over there is crucial to mission accomplishment," said Brad H. Woodson, UMA lot non-commissioned officer, 1st Radio Battalion, I-MEF. "We want to make sure the gear is over in Afghanistan waiting for the deployed Marines when they arrive there."
The Marines have been working around the clock double and triple checking that the right gear is in the correct shipping containers or pallets. Woodson, 25, from Bucklin, Kan., said that if they accidently switched up equipment, the deployed Marines would receive the wrong gear and wouldn't be able to conduct their mission properly.
"The Marines that are packing equipment have accomplished an outstanding job," said Villella, 41, from Coatesville, Pa. "It is rough, but all Marines understand why this is being completed and are up for the challenge."
After service members at the UMA receive the gear, they package all of it and send it out. The millions of dollars worth of equipment is delivered to Charleston, S.C., where the equipment is loaded onto a ship and transported to the fight.
"The Marines have great attitudes and are always motivated," said Master Gunnery Sgt. Gustavo P. Garcia, UMA lot SNCOIC with MDDOC, MHG, I-MEF, 47, from San Diego. "They know the importance of this job and they take great pride on doing this job because they know it will save a Marine at the other end."
The equipment being sent over will fill the gaps of the well needed mission essentials and replace the worn gear that the Marines and sailors are using.
"We're here to make sure all the gear is maintained, inventoried and embarked to the Marines over in Afghanistan," said Cpl. Rajin R. Nanku, communication technician, with 9th Communication Battalion, MHG, I-MEF, 21, from Waterbury, Conn. "The Marines here are making the deployed Marines mission capable by providing them with the best piece of gear that is available."
With no end to deployment preparations in the near future, Marines and sailors continue to prepare and ship out gear around the clock to support the troops fighting on the frontlines.