People often say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and though it may be interpreted as just a saying, Cpl. Ricki D. Clement took it literally when he was tasked to fix a radio. As a lance corporal, Clement took an outdated cord, originally meant to connect radios to vehicles, and reverse-engineered it to attach to a radio tester unit for a radio repairman. Each cord is estimated at around $64,000 and by developing a step-by-step procedure, Clement is saving the Marine Corps an estimated $15 million.
Clement’s presentation is made up of color-coded pictures and drawings, which make it easier for other Marines in his field to follow. In the process, Clement didn’t realize how many Marines would actually see his guide.
“A week later I was told that Quantico had got a hold of my power point and they liked what I had done,” said Clement. “The next thing I know, there are officers coming in here asking me what I did. At first, the maintenance repair shop could only wait for supply to replace the cord which would take six to eight months. Without the cord, it would limit the shop to one radio tester, which is impossible,” said Clement. “It’s just a whole bunch of wires soldered into pins which makes it virtually invulnerable to Marines, which is the important standard we are holding ourselves to.”
As simple as Clement may make it out to be, Clement’s procedure means much more to the Marine Corps as a whole. “He did a simple modification, to make sure it didn’t break anymore,” said Lt. Col. Dane A. Salm, the commanding officer of 3d Maintenance Battalion. “He’s able to expand this to the entire Marine Corps, and we’re looking at a $15 million savings if everyone applies this modification.”
The Marines tend to work at such a pace that doesn’t always allow them to be aware of the equipment’s vulnerability. Clement said he spent about two days altogether perfecting the procedure. “I did the repair about four or five times in order to get it down, then after the fourth one I made the powerpoint, then I repaired the fifth one using the powerpoint,” said Clement.
Clement specializes in micro/miniature repairs which involves working with microscopes and small solders to fix circuits. As a repairman, it is their mission to experiment and improve the capability of equipment. “I had actually been told, sort of ordered to figure something out,” Clement said.
That order came from his senior non-commissioned officer, Sgt. Michael Shearer, the assistant micro/miniature repair section chief at 3d Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35. “Cpl. Clement is a character,” said Shearer. “It’s very pleasant to work with someone who is so intelligent. [He needs] very little instruction to start him on a project.”