MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Many people may not know what a circuit card is - just a piece of fiberglass and metal that makes their computers or cell phones operate, and if defective, something that can be thrown away and replaced. But then there are those who can read a circuit card as easily as they can read a book.
“We can take a card that we know nothing about - where it came from, what it goes to - and be able to map out every piece, find what is making it malfunction and repair it,” said Staff Sgt. Isaac Staicer, electronic maintenance technician with Wire Platoon, Electronics Maintenance Company, 2nd Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
Marines and civilians with the ELMACO have been task of fixing circuit cards of virtually any piece of electronic equipment. The process a circuit card goes through, as well as the impact the repairs of such cards have on the Marine Corps, cannot be understated.
“Last fiscal year, our shop saved the Marine Corps an average of $600,000 from the work we do here,” said Warrant Officer Jacob Grivette, the Wire Platoon commander. “That’s money that can now go toward other Marine Corps purchases instead of buying a new circuit card you could have repaired.”
Staicer said that, during the better part of an hour, a Marine from Wire Platoon can save the Marine Corps up to $1,500 by fixing a damaged circuit card with a one-dollar piece of equipment and a little soldering.
When a damaged circuit card arrives at ELMACO, it is first looked over with the USM-674, a device that introduces low-level electrical currents through the card to detect any discrepancies in the electricity’s path. After the problem is discovered, it is repaired. If no special tools are needed, the card goes to the PRC2000, a high-tech soldering machine that performs various functions in circuit card repair.
“When I was working on circuit cards in Afghanistan, I saw the major impact I had on combat readiness with the grunts,” said Cpl. Jordan Heebner, micro maintenance technician with Wire Platoon. “The biggest thing was fixing the cards in their radios. Instead of having to call back to the states to have a new radio sent over, and having to deal with the time and costs, I repaired the radios with a 24-hour turnaround.”
After the card is repaired, it is taken to another work station and paired with a machine that mimics whatever piece of equipment the circuit card belongs to in a functions test. If the card works, it is sent back to its respective unit of origin and the Marine Corps has a couple thousand dollars in its pocket.
One may agree that any job in the Marine Corps that saves thousands of spending dollars daily is a job that should stay in full working order.
From working on cards that dictate whether or not a tank round hits its mark, to replacing parts as big as Franklin Roosevelt’s ear on a dime, the Wire Platoon of ELMACO will make it work again.
“We have to find ways to reuse,” said Staicer. “We don’t need to buy new electronics when we can reach to outside sources and fix them.”