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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Corporal's electric performance earns respect at MALS-39

By Cpl. David Christian | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | October 12, 2000

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON -- When it comes to keeping electrical equipment working in support aircraft, Cpl. Richard J. Williams has the job wired.

But proficiency in his military occupational speciality isn't the only reason Williams, 30, is earning rave reviews.  This 6-foot, 178-pound Camp Pendleton Marine leads by example as a hard worker with a good attitude, cohorts say.

"Corporal Williams displays a maturity level that is uncommon and above what one would expect from a junior NCO," said GySgt. Scott E. Baker, staff noncommisioned officer-in-charge, support equipment division, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 39, Marine Aviation Group 39.

Corporal Richard J. Williams, ground support equipment electrician, MALS-39, MAG-39, knows his work on the flight line is important.

His job consists of fixing electrical gear when it breaks, by troubleshooting and repairing the problem.

"I take my job seriously," he said, with a strong Southern accent. "Simply because lives depend on it."

For example, operators run the risk of getting shocked when working with electric generators.

"My job is to ensure safe operation of electrical equipment," said Williams.
A typical workday for Williams begins with a 7 a.m. "Foreign Object Debris walk" (a "FOD walk" consists of almost every air wing personnel inspecting the entire flightline to discard debris for safety).

By 7:45 a.m., Williams helps perform daily pre-operational inspections on all the electrical equipment in his shop.

This includes "NC-10" mobile electric power plants (which supply electrical power to helicopters), "Pettibone" aircraft maintenance cranes (capable of lifting rotor heads off helicopters), and mobile light units (which supply light on the flightline when it's dark outside).

Next, Williams helps complete about eight to 10 electrical jobs assigned to his shop.
The day ends with a general clean up.

Williams said one of their main goals is to "help keep the 'birds' up," so the squadrons can safely and effectively meet their monthly flight schedule.

It makes him feel good to get the job done right.

Williams said he's fortunate enough to have a job he likes.

"I have a job I enjoy," he said. "It challenges me."
He is he challenged by the electrical work, as well as the responsibility of training and leading junior Marines.

He strives to lead by example.

"When Cpl. Williams assigns someone a job," said Sgt. Tommy D. Thornton, production control supervisor, MALS-39, MAG-39, "I've noticed he's often the first one to go out there and help them finish the work."

" 'Do as I say, not as I do,' does not set a good example as a leader," Williams said.

Everyday he looks for ways to improve.

"Learning how to work with different personalities is a skill you have to develop," Williams said.

Born in Morganton, N.C., in 1969, he was the middle child with an older and younger sister.

Williams joined the Corps at age 28, seeking new opportunities.
"I was bored with my civilian job as a machinist," he said. "I felt like there was more to life and a lot more places to see."

Being older made him strive to do his best.

"You have to work a little bit harder when you're older," he said. "Especially when it comes to PT."

Although Williams joined the Corps with a technical machinist degree from Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton, N.C., he said he lacked the discipline to
work toward a bachelor's degree.

But he feels he learned good study habits by going through his military occupation specialty school.

"The Marine Corps teaches you that quitting is not acceptable," he said. "The only choice you have is to pass."

Although his favorite topic is military history, Williams plans to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Since he's been in the Corps, he's enjoyed some traveling.

"I was deployed on a ship for six months and saw Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Thailand," he said.

Williams believes the key to success in the Corps, is to simply focus on being a good Marine.

"If you're proficient as a Marine," Williams said, "you have the foundation to do a good job, no matter what it is."

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