January 2012

IBEW On Duty
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Md. Soldier Powers up Remote Afghan Base

For Eric Mooney, enthusiastic knowledge of his trade goes hand in hand with his patriotism. That was good news for 300 troops at a remote base in Afghanistan, who needed an expert to help supply power to seven new buildings.

To get the job done, Mooney — a journeyman wireman out of Baltimore Local 24 — flew via Blackhawk helicopter in late May across jagged terrain to the isolated base in Kandahar province in the southern region of the country. There, he spent a week spearheading a large project to provide light, power, air conditioning, additional food facilities and hot showers to the troops.

The 28-year-old completed tasks like converting a 220-kilowatt generator from European to American voltage, running feeds, doing terminations for all panels and buildings and establishing a permanent communications system for the soldiers.

Finishing projects like this contributed to Mooney's sense of dedication to his country. "It was a lifelong dream," he said. "I always wanted to serve." For his efforts, he was awarded the Army Achievement Medal.

When not performing crucial electrical duties for the fighting forces, Mooney conducted patrols and reconnaissance with the 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment in the central province of Uruzgan. His crew, known as the "Road Dawgs," ran multiple missions to deliver supplies to nearby forward operating bases.

"We delivered all kinds of supplies — food, parts, building materials, medical supplies, fuel and even mail," he said. "I was responsible for vehicle maintenance, making sure my squad's trucks had food and water, just in case we got held up for a while.

"It was an excellent experience, just to see how the Afghan people live their lives," Mooney said. 

Union history runs deep in the Mooney family. Eric's father Tom has been a Local 24 member for nearly four decades, and his sister Kristina Archer-Burton is going through the local's apprenticeship. Eric's uncle Richard is a member of the Carpenters local in Baltimore.

"I have always been around the IBEW, and I have always been a firm believer in organized labor and 'made in America,'" Mooney said. He started a Facebook page for visitors to voice their support for U.S.-made goods.

Military service is also a family tradition. Tom Mooney served in the Army and both of Eric's grandfathers were in the Navy during World War II. Eric's stepsister Melanie Gill is preparing to start basic combat training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. Eric signed up for active duty about a year after topping out of his apprenticeship in 2008.

Mooney recently traveled back to his home base in western Germany for two weeks to reunite with his wife, Jessica, while she delivered the couple's first child, Henley Grace.

"Eric has brought much credit to our country, the U.S. Army, his union and our family," said Tom Mooney. "Needless to say, I'm one proud father."

Baltimore Local 24 member Eric Mooney served in Afghanistan.