Monday, August 4, 2008

Sergeant maintains network of ‘cups and string’

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq (July 22, 2008)- Sergeant James Hainer has once or twice thought of his job as merely a complicated version of connecting cups with string.

The cups – several hundred PCs. The string – thousands of feet of network cables, power cords, and USB lines.

Currently deployed to al-Asad, Iraq, Hainer spends his days in the communications section of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) working with his fellow computer systems specialist to maintain connectivity among thousands of computer users. For personnel within the wing, loss of connectivity equals loss of precious work hours.
“Computers and network connectivity are essential to mission accomplishment,” said Chris Porter, the help desk lead administrator.

The 3rd MAW (Fwd.) communications section Marines and civilians manage all Marine computer helpdesks aboard al-Asad, acquire and install software applications and provide technical support.

“This office is at the highest echelon of help desks at the entire base,” said Porter. Hainer, a Kent, Wash. native with seven years of experience in his job field, describes the current mission as familiar, but riddled with issues unique to the combat environment.

“Working in theater has certain difficulties we have to overcome that are different from working in the states,” said Hainer.

Day-to-day, the 27-year-old completes connectivity checks on computer networks, logs trouble tickets and gets computers that have gone offline back on the net. On occasion, Hainer and his fellow techs ensure frustrated computer users don’t launch their PC out of the nearest window. When users go from red in the face to bringing cookies to the help desk, Hainer knows he has contributed to mission accomplishment and possibly prevented the untimely demise of a computer or two.

“Hainer displays outstanding communication skills,” said Gunnery Sgt. David Lynch, the data network chief and Hainer’s supervisor. “He is a very important piece of this puzzle that is constantly changing.”

Hainer’s communication skills and outgoing personality serve him well when dealing with frustrated computer users. These same traits will benefit him in his pursuit of becoming a teacher. Hainer credits his high school American History teacher, Mike Shepard, at Kentlake High School for inspiring him to become a teacher.

“He would teach long hours while still finding the time to help his son who had multiple sclerosis,” said Hainer of Shepard who still teaches at Kentlake.
While following in his father’s footsteps to the Marine Corps, he hasn’t lost site of his dream of teaching. He plans to attend college and earn his teaching degree when he leaves the Corps’ ranks.
Hainer will return to the U.S. in February of 2009.

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