Civilians return after special project in Iraq - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Civilians return after special project in Iraq

February 22, 2007

Albany -- A 19-man team returned from Iraq, but it's not just a group of military personnel. Most of them are civilians.

The group works at the Maintenance Center at the Marine Corps Logistics Base. Among them, mechanics and welders who went to Iraq to build and repair mine roller machines, devices that safely detonate buried explosives.

Families were overjoyed to welcome home the heroes.

"I'll be so glad when he gets here," said Jessica Jones as she waited for her husband's homecoming.

Like many other wives with husbands serving overseas, Jessica Jones along with her children waited patiently for the moment when he stepped off the Marines bus.

Their husband and father Wilt Jones spent the last month and a half in Iraq as a civilian worker, and his family is thankful he's now home safe.

"I'm just glad to have him home, he was supposed to be gone longer but now he's home, and I'm not complaining that he's home. Are you glad to be home?" said Jessica Jones.

"Yes I'm glad to be home," said Wilt Jones.

It's a homecoming many families enjoyed. Mechanics and welders from MCLB traveled to Iraq to help with a project that protects our troops riding around in armored vehicles.

The team of Marines and civilians weren't deployed for combat, but another important reason, to work on a machine called an MTVR IED Mine Roller, and it detects explosives, before they hit the vehicle.

Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Sisai led the civilians in Iraq. He says the group built several mine roller devices and made more than 200 repairs to many machines while overseas.

"We're proud. The civilians I brought were all volunteers. I volunteered to go out there. It's an honor for us to go out there and protect them so they can complete their mission," said Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Sisai.

And now that the civilians have completed their mission, they can enjoy spending time with their families. Wilt Jones says he'll do just that. Ten-year-old son Brian is thrilled his father has returned, a hero.

"It felt pretty good to be able to see his face again, but that ain't the face I remember before he left. He had a moustache," said Brian Tomko.

Altogether the Jones family learned a lot from the experience.

"He put himself in a position that most people would walk away from, that makes me really proud of him," said Jessica Jones.

"Makes me feel like I should to more for more country, and it should just be their burden to bear," said Wilt Jones.

And now that Jones and the other volunteers are home, they know they've given back, protecting the troops who protect our country.

The MTVR IED devices were developed by engineers at the MCLB. It's made of a frame, rock guard, and and humvee tires to detonate buried explosives and keep shrapnel and rocks from flying up.

The Albany team is the only Marine team sent to Iraq to work on the mine roller machines. The base began developing the machine in August and began production last year.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=CivilianMarineHomecoming/NJ