ABOARD USS DENVER AT SEA, Mar. 10, 2014 – Marine Corps Cpl. Josh Fenstermaker is a data technician for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Command Element, but he currently serves as the data communications chief aboard USS Denver, one of three ships deployed with the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group.
He holds this billet of responsibility, normally reserved for a staff noncommissioned officer, because of his exceptional skills and composure, said Marine Corps 1st Lt. Richard G. Sykes, the command element’s communications platoon commander for the CE
“He is a poised and confident individual — he doesn’t get unsettled,” said Sykes, a St. Louis native. “He’s never too hot, never too cold, and he doesn’t let things bother him. That’s what you need from that supervisory position.”
Since boarding the ship and assuming the role of data chief, Fenstermaker has supervised a team in the creation of a data network that supports hundreds of Marines and sailors from all four elements of the 31st MEU’s Marine Air Ground Task Force. It is through his response to the operational demands across the task force, often from Marines superior in rank, that Fenstermaker demonstrates his composure.
The demands of being chief have added challenges to an already complicated job. A data technician’s normal duties include building servers, imaging hard drives, running cables, managing accounts, troubleshooting and more. But Fenstermaker said he never has viewed his regular duties as difficult.
“[Being a data technician] isn’t hard in itself. It’s a matter of effort,” the Columbus, Ohio, native said. “If you care about your work, it can be easy.”
Making the work look easy has earned Fenstermaker a reputation among the Marines in the communications platoon. It is common practice for the data technicians to refer Marines with complicated issues to Fenstermaker. And if they are having trouble solving issues on their own, they turn to him.
“He is the most knowledgeable Marine we have when it comes to anything data-related,” said Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Michael A. Degregorio, a data technician and a native of Merrimack, N.H. “If we go to him, the problem always gets resolved.”
Fenstermaker is beginning his fourth deployment as a part of the Marine Corps’ force in readiness for the Asia-Pacific region. Building and maintaining data communications at sea as a leader of Marines, the 26-year-old Marine said he has come a long way from installing cable in Columbus.