Marine Corps Corporal From Loxahatchee Awarded Meritorious Service Medal

U.S. Marine Corps Col. Damon K. Burrows (left) with Cpl. Gage Barbieri (right) following an award ceremony at Camp Lejeune on May 10. Photo by Pfc. Micah Thompson Story by Cpl. Megan Ozaki

Earning the title of United States Marine is a profound achievement. However, for Gage Barbieri, it was also a bridge to greater feats.

Cpl. Barbieri, an automotive maintenance technician with Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion (HQBN), 2d Marine Division (MARDIV), is being recognized by the leaders of 2d MARDIV for using his skills, knowledge and training on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) to refine its official technical manuals across the entire Department of Defense.

Barbieri, a Loxahatchee native, grew up with little to no experience as a mechanic but always had an interest in mechanical engineering. Having graduated from Seminole Ridge High School at 16 years old, he enlisted in the Marine Corps a year later and earned the title United States Marine. He established his credibility in the Marine Corps early on by being named an honor graduate for the Automotive Maintenance Technician Basic Course as part of his military occupational specialty (MOS) training. Following this training, Barbieri received orders to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in 2021.

“Within a few weeks, it was evident that his level of understanding and mechanical knowledge was well above that of a newly trained technician,” said Master Sgt. Daryl Cannon, Barbieri’s former staff noncommissioned officer in charge. “He quickly surpassed his peers and many of the Marines who had been in the MOS for significantly longer than he had been.”

Distinguishing himself among his peers, Barbieri began working on the newly implemented JLTV system and identifying gaps in technical manuals. Barbieri was able to repair more than 75 principal trucks and equipment, sustaining overall readiness above 90 percent throughout the battalion. Additionally, Barbieri ordered more than $200,000 in repair parts to facilitate maintenance efforts within 2d MARDIV.

“Barbieri’s accomplishments at work allowed him to directly affect the battalion’s ability to support the 2d MARDIV in logistical support,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Watson, Barbieri’s former maintenance officer.

At 19 years old, Barbieri was hand-selected by his command for his capabilities and quick problem-solving skills to represent the Marine Corps and make recommendations to the JLTV technical manual at Oshkosh Defense for the JLTV validation, verification.

“He is a technically savvy, well-rounded Marine,” said Master Sgt. Kenneth Byxbee Jr., Barbieri’s former motor transport maintenance chief. “He could diagnose issues that most Marines couldn’t find and was able to make the repairs that civilian engineers from external organizations couldn’t. He was an asset to have down here as far as troubleshooting and improving maintenance proficiency.”

Barbieri’s recommendations would save the Department of Defense more than 900,000 man hours of maintenance production time and a total cost savings of more than $140 million throughout the entire life cycle of the JLTV platform.

“He identified flaws in the training manual drawings and came up with new illustrations that would prevent catastrophic failure,” former Marine Corps Systems Command civilian Jason Wolfe said. “This was one hell of a catch by this young Marine. His work on this could possibly prevent loss of life.”

Barbieri’s recommendations and impact led him to be accepted for the Meritorious Service Medal. The MSM is presented to service members who distinguish themselves with outstanding service.

Moving forward, Barbieri plans to continue teaching young noncommissioned officers as a corporals course instructor, hoping to continue making an impact in the Marine Corps. He has since found a passion in mechanical engineering and will further his personal education by working toward a degree in mechanical engineering.