CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- What Cpl. Jeffery R. Lyskawa does here is not flashy or sexy. He doesn’t fly planes or stalk the enemy through the night.
The 23-year-old Athol, Mass., native maintains and repairs dozens of air conditioners and generators that keep the 2nd Marine Division’s Communications Company up and running. It’s the type of thankless, sweaty job that leaves dirt under his fingernails at the end of the day.
Lyskawa is like the Maytag Repair Man for Communications Company, which provides the main conduit for all internet, phone and radio communications flowing into and out of the camp here, including the 2nd Marine Division’s Headquarters.
“Basically, everything that goes on and off of this base, communications wise, is handled by Communications Company,” Lyskawa said. “This is the main hub for the division; without it there would be no air strikes, no air support and no [medical evacuations].”
Lyskawa said he understands the importance of his job. By providing power and AC to the computers, radios and computer servers, he’s keeping the division and all its Marines functioning.
“I may not be shooting a rifle but I’m helping them,” Lyskawa said.
He’s been busy since his arrival in late February, helping his fellow Marines from Headquarters Battalion maintain nearly 40 generators that the Marines here use during daily operations. He also installed and repaired more than 65 military and commercial air conditioning units across the base.
Add Lyskawa’s role in consolidating the camp’s communications assets that were once scattered across the facility, a process that Lyskawa said took more than two months, and you can see how the Marines keep very busy.
“We had to totally rewire the building that we consolidated the gear into,” Lyskawa said. “It took us about two weeks to run all the wires. It was as close as you can get to wiring an entire house without actually doing it.”
Lyskawa was never formally trained to be an electrician. The majority of what he knows now, he said, he learned out here from his fellow Marines.
“I’ve had really good mentors,” he said. “They’ve taught me a lot since I’ve been out here. They’ve made sure that I was doing everything right. It’s been challenging, but it’s been a good experience and it’s made me well-rounded.”
He doesn’t consider himself an expert electrician yet, but he feels like he knows his way around enough that he doesn’t have to rely on his fellow Marines every time he is faced with an electrical problem.
“I can’t do everything,” Lyskawa said. “But I would know what to do in an emergency.”
He now passes on what he has learned by teaching others some of the basics of how to operate what he refers to as a back-up to the back-up. Since communications are imperative to the success of the Marines here, their continued function is of the utmost importance. To prevent the loss of the systems, Lyskawa has taught his fellow Marines how to install alternate power sources in the event that the primary generator is disabled.
“We gave them a couple classes on how to start-up the back-up generators and how the system works,” Laskawa said. “Now if they have a problem they can handle the situation until we get there and there will be virtually no effect on operations.”
He said he has learned a lot in the past eight months and had plenty of great experiences here. His time here has given him the opportunity to be a part of something greater than himself, but he also said he is looking forward to going home.
“I’ll have plenty of good stories to tell from this place,” Lysawa said. “I’ll be able to say I’ve been a part of history now. I remember growing up and my grandpa would tell me stories about World War II. Someday, I’ll be that old guy telling war stories to my grandchildren.”