April 19, 2012

Yuma Marine displays occupational versatility aboard ship

Cpl. Garry J. Welch
31st MEU
Photo by  Cpl. Garry J. Welch
Lance Cpl. Samantha A. Sabalboro, an airframe mechanic with Marine Attack Squadron 311, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducts a speed brake functionality check on an AV-8B Harrier, March 21.

USS ESSEX, At sea  — Every Marine and Sailor aboard the USS Essex (LHD 2) serves a crucial role in the success of the mission, but Lance Cpl. Samantha A. Sabalboro serves two.

Sabalboro, an airframe mechanic with Marine Attack Squadron 311, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, was assigned to assist the Master at Arms in maintaining safety and good order for the more than 2,000 service members on ship.

Her responsibilities require an eight hour shift every day, which is typically followed by rest and relaxation. But Sabalboro ends her shift by donning her maintenance gear and making her way towards the AV-8B Harriers she is trained to maintain.

The 21 year old native of Norfolk Va., says she enjoys the work, the chance to meet new people and the opportunity to gain valuable experience outside of her military occupational specialty.

“Doing both jobs is not challenging for me, I like to stay busy,” said Sabalboro. “Working as a patrolmen helps me gain more confidence in the way that I talk and take charge of something.”

During a normal day, if Sabalboro was not working with the master at arms office, she would spend 10 to 12 hours a day working on the airframe of AV-8B Harriers. She repairs the body, landing gear, and other vital parts of the aircraft.

Although new to the job, Sabalboro still knows how important her job is to the safety of the pilots and completion of the mission.

“If we failed to install a panel correctly, then it could potentially fall off mid-flight and injure somebody on the ground, or get sucked into the intake of the engine and bring the entire plane down,” said Sabalboro. “If we didn’t fix the landing gear right then it may not come out when it needs to and the plane would crash when it landed.”

While working as a patrolman, Sabalboro spends her time helping the master at arms office with administrative work, patrolling the ship looking for safety issues, such as sliding down the stairwells, or patrolling for activities contrary to Navy and Marine Corps regulations.

“She does an excellent job here. She is always on time and comes in with a good attitude,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos L. Jones, the anti terrorism training supervisor with Amphibious Squadron 11. “I usually see her back in her shop wearing her coveralls working after she leaves here, so she definitely keeps herself busy.”

Jones, a native of Daytona Beach, Fla., went on to say that during the time as a patrolman, she helps maintain good order and discipline around the ship.

The master at arms office receives multiple Marines to assist them with policing the crew, and their involvement is paramount to the completion of the Navy military policemen’s mission.

“I think that without the Marines support we wouldn’t be able to do our job. With more than 2,000 people on board, with just the guys I have we wouldn’t be able to maintain law and order here,” said Lt. j.g. Antonio Williams, the security officer of the USS Essex. “So their augmentation is definitely a huge benefit to us, help us to do our job and maintain the overall mission on the ship.”

Sabalboro even helped the 31st MEU complete its Certification Exercise. Acting as a part of the Master at Arms clearing team, Sabalboro helped ensure the route from the flight deck of the Essex to the brig was clear when mock enemy prisoners of war were brought aboard.

“Overall she is doing pretty well, she is filling two billets and still progressing in both of them,” said Staff Sgt. David Camacho, an aircraft division chief with VMA 311, 31st MEU, and native of Brooklyn N.Y.

Sabalboro is eager to continue working as a patrolmen and airframe mechanic throughout the duration of the 31st MEU’s deployment to the Asia-Pacific region.

The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and remains the nation’s force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

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