TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Each Carolina-based Marine and sailor of Marine Air Ground Task Force 2 has a vital role. There are light armored reconnaissance Marines, tank drivers and others to name a few. However, much of their success depends on an often forgotten MAGTF asset -- the hands of Combat Service Support Detachment 22.
Many of these Marines and sailors arrived nearly two weeks ago and have made preparations for Combined Arms Exercise 9-02 since.
Twelve platoons make up CSSD-22. They have performed vehicle maintenance, marked training areas and ensured sufficient fuel is available in preparation for their infantry counterparts to go to the field and begin training.
"It's our job to repair and maintain the vehicles for these units we're supporting," Gunnery Sgt. Lewis J. Sempek said. "They're the ones up the hill, but it's my ultimate goal to get my Marines to the field with the units," the Omaha, Neb., ordnance chief explained.
Sempek said in his opinion, CAX would go more smoothly with his mechanics in the field, comparing notes with the units. He said his Marines could show the organic mechanics how the vehicles would be fixed in the rear, while learning troubleshooting field skills.
Cpl. Anthony C. Hernandez, a motor transport mechanic and wrecker driver, said it took a while to get used to the Mojave's 100-degree temperatures. He said the key is just to keep hydrated and stay focused on the job at hand.
"When I'm called out to a broken down vehicle, it's my goal to fix it there instead of towing back," the Erie, Ill., Marine boasted, pointing to his "high-speed, low-drag" general mechanic's tool kit.
Quickly adapting to the new people and different leadership styles is more challenging than the desert's extreme temperatures for Cpl. Frankie E. Wingard.
"It's better than the cold - it's very painful," the New York motor transport mechanic said. He explained how easily knuckles get busted from bumping them on the cold metal.
Aside from the new personalities, Wingard's only other complaint was the lack of after-work activities at CAX compared to his home base of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He said this is tough when he's on call 24/7.
Lance Cpl. Michael A. Rumfalo, also a mechanic, agreed, but said it was all right.
"Just relax and play some spades," he said.
Rumfalo, who is from nearby Lancaster, Calif., said he is used to the heat.
"The only difference between here and Lejeune is the uneven sand instead of our flat, concrete bays there," he said.
Lance Cpl. William A. Genochio said so far CAX has been a great learning tool.
"I've seen a lot of cross-training with the different platoons here," the Kansas City, Mo., mechanic said. "It's been great seeing how the other units work."
CAX 9-02 will end sometime in mid-August. The 392 men and women of CSSD-22, who belong to 2nd Force Service Support Group at Lejeune, will remain here and sustain CAX 10-02 with other MAGTF-2 elements.