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AL ASAD, Iraq ? Sgt. James W. Battisti (right), from Little Falls, N.Y., reviews equipment-receiving forms with Staff Sgt. Eric P. Baker, supply chief assigned to Marine Wing Support Group 27 and Burnsville, N.C., native, April 30. Battisti fills in 10 positions in Marine Air Control Squadron 1, Air Traffic Control Detachment Alpha.


Little Falls native helps detachment stay afloat

4 May 2005 | Sgt. Juan Vara

The Marines from Marine Air Control Squadron 1, Air Traffic Control Detachment Alpha don’t have to look for many of the personnel in the unit.

Whenever they want to locate their maintenance management officer, supply officer, supply chief, logistics chief, embarkation chief, ammunition chief, headquarters section leader, supply clerk, barracks manager, and motor transport dispatcher, they don’t send a squad of Marines around to track them down.

What they do, is go in an office in the detachment’s barracks.  More than likely they’ll find him behind a desk typing away on the computer, pouring coffee down his throat to get the jolt that will help him get through the day.

One Marine fills all these positions.  How does he do it?

“I drink a lot of coffee,” said Sgt. James W. Battisti, a Little Falls, N.Y., native.  “My workload is never ending.”

According to Battisti, it usually takes five or six sections comprised of several Marines to do the amount of work he does by here himself.

“I put out fires,” he said.  “That’s basically what I do.  There’s always new people coming to me with many requests and I have to get them what they need.”

Battisti begins his workdays by checking his e-mail.  He then manages and generates reports on the combat readiness of the two Marine air control squadrons operating in the Marine Corps’ area of responsibility.  An average of 25 messages appear in his inbox every day with approximately 15 of them being new assignments, according to Battisti.

This detachment of MACS-1 deployed without their command element.  While the number of Marines who deployed here dropped, the amount of responsibility given to these Marines has increased.  Battisti alone accounts for about 9 million dollars worth of gear.  About 4 million being vehicles and the rest being communications and other miscellaneous gear.

A few Marines in the detachment are under Battisti’s supervision and he acknowledges their accomplishments in keeping the detachment going.

“My small section makes sure these guys have the ‘beans, bullets and band-aids,’” he said.  “We manage everything from a $1 light bulb to $150,000 trucks to a telephone switchboard that costs $418,000.”

Battisti recently procured new night vision goggles for the air traffic controllers and his ongoing project is procuring armor for the detachment’s vehicles.

“Sergeant Battisti makes everything go,” said Sgt. Sao Saechao, detachment utilities chief from San Jose, Calif.  “Without him we wouldn’t function.”

No stranger to the stresses of leaving his family behind to answer the call to duty, Battisti is on his second tour here in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A graduate of Little Falls High School, he set foot on the yellow footprints of Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., in May 1996.  After enduring basic training he went to Camp Geiger, N.C., where he attended a two-week course to learn basic infantry skills.

The next step was Marine Corps Support Services Schools at Camp Johnson, N.C., where he learned the basics of being a supply clerk.  His first duty station was 7th Communication Battalion in Okinawa, Japan, where he served for a year and transferred to the Weapons and Training Battalion at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va., in December 1997.

After six months there he transferred to Marine Corps Air Facility also in Quantico.  In May 2000 he reported to Headquarters and Services Company, 8th Tanks Battalion, 4th Marine Division, a reserve unit in Rochester, N.Y.

The fall of 2003 saw Battisti check into the unit that would bring him to Iraq twice during the next two years.  After serving here for six months in 2004 he returned to California and now, six months later, he’s back.

“He’s definitely a hard charger,” said Gunnery Sgt. Trenton R. Widdis, detachment staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge.  “Sergeant Battisti steps up to the plate to say the least, but all of the Marines in the logistics section are working miracles on a daily basis.”

Widdis, from Columbus, Ohio, has worked with Battisti for the past two years and said he considers him a Marine he can rely on to get the job done the right way.

Battisti will compete for promotion to staff sergeant in July.  Results of the board are expected to be announced in September.

Working in unity, the Marines of MACS-1 would not succeed without teamwork.  Battisti attributes his success and work ethic to the Marines of his detachment; especially the leadership who has helped shape his abilities as a Marine.

- For more information about the Marines reported on in this story, please contact Sgt. Juan Vara by e-mail at -
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