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Face of Defense: Marine is MP by Day, Mechanic by Night

By Marine Corps Cpl. Garry J. Welch
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

ABOARD USS ESSEX AT SEA, March 22, 2012 – Every Marine and sailor aboard the USS Essex serves a crucial role in the success of the mission, but Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samantha A. Sabalboro serves two.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samantha A. Sabalboro checks a speed brake on an AV-8B Harrier aboard the USS Essex, March 21, 2012. Sabalboro fills two billets on ship, working as a patrolman for eight hours and then as an airframe mechanic. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Garry J. Welch

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

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 normally is followed by rest and relaxation. But Sabalboro ends her day shift by donning her maintenance gear and making her way toward the AV-8B Harriers she is trained to maintain.

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

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

During a normal day, if Sabalboro is not working with the master at arms office, she spends 10 to 12 hours servicing AV-8B Harrier airframes, repairing the body, landing gear and other vital parts.

Although fairly new to the job, Sabalboro still knows just how important her job is to pilot safety and mission completion.

“If we failed to install a panel correctly, then it could potentially fall off midflight and injure somebody on the ground, or get sucked into the intake of the engine and bring the entire plane down,” Sabalboro said. “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 helps the master at arms office with administrative work or patrols the ship looking for safety issues and 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 Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos L. Jones, 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.”

Many Marines help the master at arms office with policing the crew, and their involvement is paramount to the completion of the Navy’s military police mission.

“I think that without the Marines’ support, we wouldn’t be able to do our job,” said Navy Lt. j.g. Antonio Williams, the USS Essex security officer. “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. So their augmentation is definitely a huge benefit to us.”

Sabalboro even helped the 31st MEU complete its certification exercise. Acting as a part of the master at arms clearing team, she helped to ensure the route from the flight deck 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 Marine Corps Staff Sgt. David Camacho, an aircraft division chief with Marine Attack Squadron 311 and a native of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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

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