AL ASAD, Iraq -- A human hair is roughly five thousandths of an inch. If these Marines are wrong by a single thousandth of an inch, the whole piece is worthless and they have to start the entire process again.
Sergeant Daniel M. Rangel and Lance Cpl. David C. Boone Jr., are both machinists with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26 stationed at Al Asad, Iraq. Sept. 30, they were both awarded Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for building, from raw metal, tronion adapters needed to pull engines from AV-8B Harriers to be serviced.
“We worked 64 straight hours,” said Rangel, a native of Akron, Ohio, who said he was no stranger to working late nights perfecting pieces of metal. “I was suppose to have the day off, but the (aviation maintenance officer) came in at 10 p.m. and told me these pieces needed to be done right away. If we weren’t able to make them, it would have taken two to three weeks to order and get in country.”
The two Marines, who are the only two machinists at Al Asad, said when the AMO showed up, they knew it was a high priority job. They dropped everything they were working on and devoted themselves to accomplishing their mission.
“Just give me the print and I’ll make it,” Rangel said he told the AMO. “It’s not something new to work more than 24 hours on a job. I ended up working 36 hours straight. I was able to get two larger pieces done before passing the job over to Boone and getting some rest.”
Boone and Rangel took metal from raw stock and cut it down to the exact specification on the print given to them.
“Once I was finished, I fell down on a chair and let out a long sigh,” said Boone, a native Granite City, Ill. “Then, I realized everything was covered in a layer of oil and the can was knee-deep in metal shavings. I still had a lot of work ahead of me.”
The Marines said they were surprised, extremely happy and a little nervous when they found out they were going to be awarded NAMs from the Marine Aircraft Group 26 commanding officer.
“I was very glad to see them get recognized,” said Sgt. Samuel W. Dial, their work center supervisor, a native of Vidor, Texas. “Within the MALS, their job is the most important. At Al Asad, every squadron has come down and asked for their assistance. They have helped Al Asad’s fire department, Army Bradley tanks, mortuary affairs and have even volunteered to buy parts needed to get the job done.”
Dial stressed that these two Marines work very, very hard.
He said he has never had any problems with Rangel after working with him for four years and Boone is a quick learner who has a good Marine to emulate, follow and teach him everything he needs to know.
“This is one of the highest awards you can get as a machinist,” said Boone. “It means more to me than anything and was a personal goal I had. It’s the first (medal) I’ve earned.”
This is the first award Rangel has gotten in four years of dedicated service. He said he was surprised they were going to put him and Boone up for a NAM and get it through so fast.
Boone said it feels good knowing his work was noticed all the way up the chain of command, and that his job has affected a lot of people.
“We saved the entire Harrier squadron two full workdays,” said Rangel. “That’s how long it would have taken to get the engines out without the parts we built. That was my determination, not to be off by a thousandth of an inch. Then, for the MAG CO to come here was a real honor. It means a lot to have been recognized.”