NEWS | July 21, 2021

Minemen Among us

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys, Navy Reserve Chief of Information

When most people think of Naval mine warfare, Greenville does not immediately come to mind. However, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is an important part of the Navy’s mine warfare mission.
 
Mobile Mine Assembly Unit (MOMAU) 7, a Reserve unit attached to Navy Munitions Command (NMC) Okinawa, is home to a group of Navy Reserve Minemen working to keep the oceans safe.
 
“Essentially, our job is to be ready — but a little more involved,” said Mineman 1st Class Andrew Terry of Charlotte, N.C. “For example, if a foreign country were to block trade, the active side of our community would come in with minesweepers and start sweeping through trade lines and routes.

“The flip side to that is that we could be activated and sent overseas to upgrade assets to be deployed,” added Terry. “Part of our job is to build the actual explosives and the mines, essentially putting the components together, link it all up, verify it’s good and ready to go to a plane.” 

According to Terry, dealing with mines is highly specialized, deeply involved, minutely technical and potentially dangerous. The work involves consistent training, requiring members of MOMAU to do a little more than what most people would think of a typical ‘weekend warrior.’
 
“Depending on how much we are doing in a given year, we are activated anywhere from 60-75 days,” said Terry, adding the unit’s completion of mission requirements come from a combination of Inactive Duty Training Travel (IDTT) and Annual Training (AT) order types.
 
“It’s a good bit,” added Mineman 2nd Class Justin Williams, of Greenwood, S.C., when asked about the unit’s engagement level. “I would say we probably go on IDTT orders three or four times a year, and then we do a 29-day AT.”
 
Since the mine countermeasure monitoring of international trade routes is not common in upstate South Carolina, the unit travels far and wide each year to sharpen their skills and hone operational efficiency.
 
“We typically go overseas to Japan, building assets, training and ensuring we are at 100 percent readiness,” said Terry, adding that every two years, MOMAU undergoes an inspection conducted by their parent command, Commanding Officer Mobile Mine Assembly Group (COMOMAG).
 
“They verify we have everything good-to-go and ensure the command gets a passing grade on the inspection,” said Terry. “On off years, we go to a training exercise.”
 
Terry, a car salesman, and Williams, a manufacturing operator, agree: MOMAU has given them opportunities they would never have gotten otherwise.
 
“Going to Japan is by far the best thing I have ever done [with MOMAU],” said Williams. “It’s not just because of the training we do over there — it has broadened my horizons on life. It was the first time I had ever traveled outside of the United States.”
 
“Just being able to go overseas and the time you get to spend away — we’ve done everything,” added Terry. “We’ve gone hiking, to beaches, zip-lining and even real-life Mario Kart racing. There’s a lot of fun stuff to take your mind off work.”
 
Off-duty, overseas experiences are not the only source for excitement for the Sailors assigned to MOMAU. The unit performs hair-raising and inherently dangerous duties to support the Navy Reserve.
 
“We also have to do maintenance on [real ammunition],” said Williams. “It was kind of nerve-wracking to have this big 2000 [plus] pound bomb that is ready to go off in your face at any moment. Being able to open it up and see all the actual real components on the inside is really cool.”
 
Even from the land-locked city of Greenville, the Sailors assigned to MOMAU perform a critical, at-sea mission in support of Navy Reserve warfighting readiness.
 
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