USS Peleliu (LHA 5)
Decommissioned March 31, 2015
MR1 Terry Giles: Navy Machine Repairman, Citizen Machinist
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek Stroop
Walking through the doors of a sweet smelling coffee shop in central Tennessee, a father and daughter stand in the corner. He plays his guitar, and she sings vibrant country melodies that echo throughout the shop. Patrons sit at their tables sipping on the bold and medium textures of their coffee while the pungent aroma of Arabica beans fill the air, along with the smooth country sounds rising from the corner.

The father prefers Southern rock, but he is happy just to be sitting next to his daughter, enjoying the moment. This father is Machinery Repairman 1st Class Terry Giles, from Summertown, Tenn.

Giles works his civilian job at a local Lawrenceburg, Tenn. machine shop, but he also works as a machinery repairman (MR) in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He has managed to juggle a technical specialty in both facets of his career.

He joined the Navy on active duty status in 1985 and worked with the Seabees as a steelworker. Giles said that he likes how the Navy provides a steady work environment without constant fear of getting laid off, which is why he joined.

After serving on active duty for seven years, he got out of the Navy to work a civilian job. Several years later he came back to the Navy as a reservist.

“I missed being at sea, I missed everything about it,” said Giles, who is now the leading petty officer of the machine shop aboard amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5). “After doing a couple Mediterranean and WESTPAC cruises, it’s just something you can’t get out of you, it’s in your blood.”

Giles previously served on the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), guided-missile cruisers USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and USS Princeton (CG 59). He joined the reserves because he likes the flexibility of picking and choosing assignments.

“[The reserves] give you that flexibility to choose an assignment or volunteer for duty,” said Giles. “I volunteered for an assignment called Surge Main, which is a new program where we report to shipyards and perform maintenance. It gave me the opportunity to ask individual commands if they needed any extra help on their deployments.”

According to Giles, that was one of the reasons why he chose and was able to come to the Peleliu. He reported for duty aboard Peleliu, Sept. 16. He said that he found his niche here and really likes the command.

“The command is absolutely awesome,” continued Giles. “I like everything about it. I have not seen anything I don’t like. The commanding officer, executive officer and the command master chief have been with us on everything we are doing and are supporting our needs.”

Giles added that as a machinery repairman, he manufactures repair parts for any piece of equipment on board. Most of the time, the parts are made from scratch.

“In a little over two months, we have already saved the Navy approximately $40,000 in parts and equipment costs,” said Giles. “I was able to manufacture two pieces for a $30,000 piece of equipment that was out of commission. Now it’s back online, so the Navy doesn’t have to buy a new one.”

The machine shop is gaining the skills and various traits as machinery repairmen.

“Right now we are currently working on a piece for the Marines for one of their weapons,” said Giles. “We are gunsmiths, metalsmiths and blacksmiths, we do it all.”

Giles said the Peleliu is the current Amphibious Repair Group Intermediate Maintenance Activity unit for the entire 5th Fleet area of responsibility, so the shop on board takes care of any machinery repair work that needs to be done throughout the 5th Fleet.

Giles enjoys sharing knowledge and skills of the MR rating to his Sailors in the shop.

“I enjoy teaching junior Sailors,” said Giles. “I like to go and show them new ways to approach things and they would say, ‘Wow that really works.’”

Sailors in his shop are receptive to his training and are eager to learn more from him.

“I have learned a lot from him since he got here,” said Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Krystle Donato, “I’m still learning from him now.”

His leadership and work ethic is also recognized and respected from his juniors.

“MR1 Giles is a great leader,” said Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Robert Adair, “He has the right direction in lifestyle and in work. He brings so much insightful knowledge and wisdom to everyone.”

Giles has a lot of respect for the Sailors he works with and he learns from their experiences as well.

“I could not go out and hand pick a better set of guys and girls to work with than who I have in the shop right now,” said Giles. “I am learning a lot from them too. We put our heads together, and have been able to knock some stuff out.”

Giles’ Naval and civilian careers directly affect each other because he does the same job in both situations. The more jobs he completes as a reservist will make him better when he goes back to Tennessee to work on other machinery.

In his civilian career, he works at 3D Pro Parts in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., where he is a computer numeral controller (CNC). A CNC makes machinery parts using a computer software system that takes a part’s blueprint and makes them into a real product, said Giles.

“We do a lot of automotive parts, but it’s mainly prototype parts,” he said. “If someone has an idea [for a part] or wants to make a part work better, they give it to us and we make it happen.”

He is able to apply the same principles of a machinist into both facets of his career as a reservist and a civilian machinist.

“I’m doing the exact same thing here [on the Peleliu] as I do at work back in Tennessee he added. “It benefits me by making me a better machinist, coming out here on a ship and then taking what I’ve learned and apply it [at 3D Pro Parts].”

Giles concluded that his biggest advice for Sailors who plan to go in the reserves is to follow through on it. It gives the opportunity to go to school and still reap the benefits of being in the military.

Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and along with the embarked 15th MEU are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

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