MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The sun shines bright in Twentynine Palms, California, temperatures rise by the hour, and the Marines of 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade are no less than three weeks away from escaping the unforgiving summer conditions of the Californian deserts.
The MEB’s mission this time is to complete Large Scale Exercise 2014.
LSE-14 is a bilateral training exercise being conducted by 1st MEB to build U.S. and Canadian forces joint capabilities through live, simulated, and constructive military training activities aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, from Aug. 8-14.
Exercises like LSE-14 require logistical efforts all around, from living facilities to its command operations center to complete the mission. Electricity is one of the necessities to achieve mission accomplishment.
The 1st MEB counts on Marines like Lance Cpl. Elijah Bingman to ensure power reaches as far as the mission requires.
The 21-year-old from Joplin, Missouri, joined the Marine Corps almost three years ago.
As an electrician generator operator with 1st Brigade Headquarters Group, Engineers, 1st MEB, he is part of the group of Marines in charge of powering up Camp Francis, home to the MEB’s command element during LSE-14.
“My job consists of providing power for anything and everything that is required for the field [operation], so the air-conditioning, the satellite imagery, communications and medical,” said Bingman. “If it requires power, we’re the ones that are providing for it.”
After flipping the switches on, the COC is able to power up their computers, utilize any other electronics, and the Marines are able to cool off from the cold air blowing out of the air-conditioning vents. Bingman’s responsibility now is maintaining the power.
“I establish the grid, provide the power, and then I’m on stand-by in case someone flips a breaker, someone trips on my cord or one of my generators catches on fire,” said Bingman. “[If] any of those scenarios [arise], I have to go and respond, troubleshoot and do whatever I can to ensure the power doesn’t go down in those mission-critical areas.”
As the MEB works on developing its command element’s expeditionary capabilities through LSE-14, a continuous stream of power for the COC is imperative.
“[If something like the COC] goes down, your job is to determine if you can fix the generator as fast as possible and get the site back up and going, or you have to take a generator from a non-essential site, like a billeting tent, get it to the mission-critical , and then deal with the fall out later,” said Bingman.
Corporal Leland Miller, a heavy equipment mechanic with BHG, Engineers, 1st MEB, is a work colleague and friend of the Marine electrician, who said he enjoys working with Bingman and is fond of the values he lives by, both on and off duty.
“He takes pride in doing his job and trying to get it done to the fullest,” said Miller. “The quote he lives by is ‘what is a man without his honor?’ and by the way he works, [you can tell] he’s trying to gain his honor through his work and his mentality, so he works as hard as he can.”
Bingman said he enjoys doing his job and is proud to be a valuable contribution to the Marine Corps.
“I absolutely love my job,” said Bingman. “It’s a lot of fun, because it’s like a big puzzle. I have to get power from a circuit breaker up the wall, across the wall, down the support beam, so to me, it’s fun.”
Bingman’s hard work and enthusiasm for his job doesn’t go unnoticed by his co-workers and leadership.
“When he’s working he loses focus on what’s going on around him, because he’s so focused on what’s going on,” said Miller. “If there’s a problem he’s not going stop until he figures out what’s wrong with it.”
As the MEB trains to improve its expeditionary capabilities to respond to crises around the world in a quick and efficient manner, Marines like Bingman continue to dedicate themselves to ensure the mission gets accomplished.
“The [discipline and values learned in the Marine Corps] have already helped me in life,” said Bingman. “It gives me an air of confidence [to know that] if I can handle what they throw at me in the Marine Corps; the civilian world is going to be a piece of cake.”