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CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq - Staff Sgt. Kevin Norwood, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment's armory chief, inspects an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon here Aug. 9. Every week, the battalion's small arms and optics technicians troubleshoot, inspect and repair more than 100 rifles, machineguns and night-vision units that infantrymen use while they patrol the streets of Fallujah.

Photo by Cpl Mike Escobar

Mich. Marine's team keeps weapons up in Fallujah

9 Aug 2005 | Cpl. Mike Escobar

Attention Marines in Fallujah: we will get your broken gear up and running in 24 hours.

That's the type of service armory personnel like Lance Cpl. Raphael Brenner promise hundreds of infantrymen throughout the city.  It's free, 100 percent guaranteed, and they even deliver.

The 22-year-old Caledonia, Mich. native is one of five Marines who help man 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment's armory.  As an electro-optical ordnance repair technician, Brenner works alongside small arms repairmen to keep their infantrymen's weapons and optics in good working order.

Brenner, a combat veteran of a 2004 Afghanistan tour, is currently assisting his unit and Iraqi Security Forces provide stability to nearby Fallujah.

The battalion's infantrymen operate out of various locations inside and out of the city, constantly weathering hellish heat, dust storms and the threat of attack as they patrol and convoy throughout the streets.  Performing these missions, these troops get almost as beat up as the arms they tote about town.  

"Marines come into the armory here frequently, and they bring us all of their broken weapons and gear.  Normally, we're able to fix things right on the spot," Brenner explained. 

His battalion maintains accountability of thousands of pistols, rifles, machine guns and night-vision equipment. With only Brenner and four other teammates to service their repair needs, they work seven days a week to keep the weapons operational.

"We're also on the road at least once a week, going out to every company to see what gear we can fix there," Brenner explained.

He and the others travel as part of several logistic support convoys headed into Fallujah to re-supply the infantrymen with food, water and general support.  Brenner comes armed with a soldering iron and a keen attention to detail.

"I mostly repair personal optics, like 'seven bravos' and 'fourteens'," he said, explaining how he services the AN/PVS-7B and AN/PVS-14 night vision goggles.  "When everyone keeps their equipment clean, it prevents a lot of problems.  Sometimes, the electric wiring in there just needs a quick soldering job."

Marines conducting night-time patrols and standing after-hours guard posts attach the NVGs Brenner services onto the front of their helmets, and flip them on over their eyes as they make their way through the city's streets. 

Brenner said the upkeep of night-vision optics is essential. Night vision equipment, however, isn’t the only things he maintains to give the troops a tactical edge in the dark.

"Anything that is electro-optical, from NVGs to compasses, I service.  I even work on things like the (AN/PEQ-2 and -4s)," he stated. 

The 'Peck twos' and 'Peck fours,' as Marines here call them for short, are rifle-mounted, infrared-light, laser-beam emitting targeting devices.  With the turn of a knob, personnel may put a laser point on a target from more than 100 meters away.  Upon pulling the trigger, the round strikes exactly where the pinprick of light had been before.

"You can fire the weapon from any position you want, as long as you see that laser point on your target," Brenner added.

According to Staff Sgt. Kevin Norwood, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment's armory chief, his Marines service approximately 60 optics units and 75 small arms and automatic weapons every week.

"We all do different tasks here, but we all help keep the weapons combat-ready," added Norwood.

"There's always going to be at least one weapon that's getting worked on.  But if the infantrymen report a damaged weapon, we'll have it picked up from wherever they're at within 24 hours."

Brenner and his fellow Marines will continue providing this top-notch service to their infantry brethren here, while perfecting their technical skills.

"I like this job, because I've gotten to learn a useful trade while still being involved with the 'grunts' and the war as a Marine," Brenner said.