Marine Corporal Saves $140 Million in Military Costs and Earns Medal of Honor

Marine Corporal Saves $140 Million in Military Costs and Earns Medal of Honor

A Marine Corps truck mechanic has received a medal normally awarded to senior military personnel for saving the Department of Defense more than $140 million through a job he started as a teenage corporal.

Corporal Gage Barbieri, now 21, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal on Friday by Col. Damon Burroughs, commander of Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. Burrows wrote on LinkedIn that Barbieri is at least the second Marine Corporal to receive the Distinguished Service Medal since 2008.

Barbieri was representing the Marine Corps in the Oshkosh Defense Force’s revision of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle technical manual when he pointed out deficiencies in the manual, including issues that could lead to rollovers.

The Corps estimates that Barbieri’s engineering acumen will save more than 900,000 man-hours of maintenance production time and more than $140 million over the lifecycle of the platform.

“This was an incredible catch by this young Marine,” Jason Wolfe, Marine Corps production support manager for Vehicle Program Executive Officer Oshkosh, said in a Marine Corps news release. “His work on this work package has the potential to prevent loss of life.”

Barbieri, a native of Loxahatchee, Florida, has always been interested in how things work, he said in an interview with Marine Corps Times on Thursday.

As a child, he used to take apart toys. And then he remembered where each screw was and tried to reassemble them or make something that looked a little different.

Still, Barbieri said it’s easy to retain information.

“Once you do it, it feels like you’ve done it a million times, and you find the easiest way,” he says.

At age 14, he began drag racing through the International Hot Rod Association. He learned how to check his car before hitting the track.

But most of his background in mechanical engineering was theoretical knowledge about aspects of systems such as wiring and resistance, he said, gleaned from reading technical manuals.

Barbieri skipped the fourth grade and graduated from high school in 2019 at just 16 years old. He spent two semesters studying mechanical engineering, first at Palm Beach State University in Florida and then at the University of California, Berkeley, but he didn’t like mechanical engineering.

One day, a Marine recruiter approached him at a career fair.

“I tried everything else and couldn’t find anything wrong with joining the Marines,” Barbieri said.

He arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, in June 2020, according to a news release. After his initial training, he attended the Automotive Maintenance Technician Basic Course and graduated with honors.

Barbieri checked into Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in April 2021. When Barbieri arrived, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle was also new to his unit.

“As they started to break down, there were more and more different aspects that had to be fixed, and there weren’t many people who had experience working on them already,” Barbieri said.

When Barbieri started working with the force for about six months, he encountered a problem for which there was no easy solution. It was a question of how to replace the hose that runs from the vehicle’s engine bay to the rear end.

It took him two weeks, but he managed to figure it out, he said.

His leaders then tasked him with repairing more and more vehicles with troubling problems. Barbieri repaired more than 75 trucks and kept the battalion’s readiness above 90 percent, according to a news release.

His leaders took notice.

“He was able to diagnose problems that most Marines couldn’t spot and make repairs that civilian technicians from outside organizations couldn’t,” said Sgt. Kenneth Bixby Jr., Barbieri’s former head of automotive transportation maintenance, said in a news release.

In late 2021, when Barbieri was just a 19-year-old corporal, his commanding officer assigned him to spend several months working on a technical manual for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle with Oshkosh’s technical writing team in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Selected.

“If I saw something that didn’t feel right or messed up the flow of things, I wrote it down,” Barbieri said.

Based on these issues, Barbieri and the rest of the team met in a conference room and proposed changes to the technical manual.

One day, Barbieri noticed a problem with the instructions for replacing a steering column. Installing the replacement part that way would have prevented the steering wheel from moving, he said.

“If something like that happens during a turn or on the highway, it can cause a rollover,” he says.

Barbieri said Oshkosh accepted his opinion and worked with him to change the directive.

That wasn’t the only change Barbieri proposed.

Burrows said, “Mr. Barbieri wowed engineers with his brilliance and proposed changes, both in the production of new vehicle parts and in updating the electronic maintenance manuals currently published and distributed by the Program Directorate in all military branches.” ” he wrote on LinkedIn.

On Friday, Barbieri received the Medal of Merit, which is awarded to military personnel who have distinguished themselves through “remarkable accomplishments or accomplishments.”

Barbieri said he celebrated by ordering himself a buffalo chicken pizza later that day.

He is scheduled to retire from the Marine Corps in June. His next step is to attend the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where he plans to study mechanical engineering. He wants to be a tech writer who writes his own manuals, he said.

But for now, he teaches a course that teaches leadership skills to corporals as they prepare for promotion to corporal.

Barbieri said she loves her job.

“I just like standing in front of Marines and talking to them and making sure they know more than I do,” he said.

Eileen Lowenson is a staff reporter at Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an Editorial Fellow in her August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College and served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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