U.S. Marines – United States Marine Corps

Life in the Marines

Learning the Meaning of Brotherhood

2As Pvt. Joel A. Lopez, Platoon 3263, Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, made his way through each event of the Crucible, he knew he was getting one step closer to becoming a part of the Marine Corps’ brotherhood.
Eighteen-year-old Lopez, a Houston native, joined the Corps to find a better way of life for himself and his brothers.

Lopez lived in a rough neighborhood in Northeast Houston that had a high gang-related crime rate. His family’s monthly income was unstable, but his parents always ensured that at leat the kids’ basic necessities were met.

Lopez’s parents divorced when he was 12, leaving him and his brothers split up into each home.

“The divorce was hard on me and my brothers. My brothers bounced back and forth between homes while I stayed with my mother,” said Lopez. “Both of my parents fought for guardianship, so it made things rough for us.” (continue reading…)

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Boosting morale through cadence

Military cadence is a traditional call that is used as a song during running and marching formations. Cadences are used to instill teamwork, build camaraderie and to boost the morale of a unit.

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Cadence commands such as “left foot, right foot” keep the platoon synchronized while in a running formation. However, there is more to cadence than to just stay instep. Military cadence is also used to motivate and inspire military personnel to push through fatigue.

“When you’re out training and running with your unit to cadences it gives you a sense of pride, keeps you and your fellow Marines motivated and builds up camaraderie with the people you train with everyday,” said Staff Sgt. Glen E. Allen, drill instructor, Platoon 2129, Company F, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. “Morale is always important to keep high within a unit. Cadence is one of those things used to keep it high.” (continue reading…)

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A Generation Shaped by Combat

Cpl. Martin Kim provides over watch as the Afghan Uniform Police and the Kajaki Police Advisor Team patrol through the local bazaar near Outpost Mamuriyet April 1. The past decade of war has shaped who Marine Corps leaders are and what future leaders will be like.

Cpl. Martin Kim provides over watch as the Afghan Uniform Police and the Kajaki Police Advisor Team patrol through the local bazaar near Outpost Mamuriyet April 1. The past decade of war has shaped who Marine Corps leaders are and what future leaders will be like.

 

The violence in Iraq was reaching its pinnacle in 2004 when Chris Taylor received his deployment orders to Al-Anbar province. Marines had just bloodied their way through the first Battle of Fallujah and insurgency within the country was beginning to expand as sectarian clashes divided the nation.

At the time, Taylor was newly married and just learning how to balance his life with his wife Angela. He had recently graduated the Defense Language Institute as an Arabic linguist and was just getting settled into their new home in Jacksonville, N.C., when he found out his unit, 2nd Radio Battalion, was to deploy.

Angela was speechless. Taylor comforted his wife the best he could, but anticipation, fear, and excitement gripped his own thoughts. As a corporal, Taylor had never deployed before and didn’t know what to expect. But as a young noncommissioned officer, he knew he needed to be in Iraq. (continue reading…)

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Marine Sgt Takes Route to Become Officer

When shots rang out and flames burst through the Afghan sky over Camp Bastion last September, a lot of things changed for many people.

Marines who thought they might never see combat from their flight line roles as fuel specialists, mechanics, information technology specialists, engineers and myriad support jobs suddenly found themselves under attack and engaging the enemy.

Sgt. Efrain Melecio, an aviation logistics information management support specialist, then with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 (Forward), was walking out of the showers after a long day at work when he and his fellow Marines saw the attack.

“It was the biggest flame I’ve ever seen in my life,” said the Chicago native. “We had a lot of Marines who were involved in combat. Seeing the affect it had on them, I wanted to one day be able to help somebody who is going through something like that.” (continue reading…)

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Fighting with the Royal Marine Commandos in Afganistan

The sky was gray. It was raining, muddy and cold. I’m tired. Everyone else must have been tired, too, but the Royal Marine Commandos are elite – they weren’t showing it.

“That’s what we do, we yomp,” said Sgt. Noel Connelly, of the groups’ hiking with packs.. “Just like the Falklands in ‘82. We’re bootnecks. That’s what bootnecks do… yomp.”

We stopped and rested on the side of the road. Reports over the radio were saying the tanks couldn’t get through because insurgents have dug ditches in the road. The tanks had to find a new route and that would take time. So we waited and endured the mud and cold rain.

“Hey USMC, do you want a smoke,” said Connelly, platoon sergeant for Royal Marine’s 9th Troop, “L” Company, 42 Commando, as he took out some English cigarettes. “These are healthy cigarettes.”

(continue reading…)

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Sports Medicine and Injury Prevention

Marines pride themselves on being the toughest of all military branches. According to a “Times Magazine” article that came o

ut earlier this month, the United States Marine Corps basic training is the most “bone crushing” basic training in all the United States Armed Forces.

Data contained in military reports from 2004 to 2010 show Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego has broken 688 recruits’ tibias and fibulas, in the past six years. That makes more lower leg breaks than any other U.S. military training facility. Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island follows closely behind with 613 recruits.
The article in the “Times Magazine” also shows the Marine Corps current status, which is on a decline when it comes to stress fractures. The intent of the Marine Corps basic training isn’t to break recruits, but to prepare them for the rigorous physical fitness requirements they will encounter in the fleet and combat. (continue reading…)

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New Father in Marines

The brutal physical conditioning, constant mental stress and desolation of emotional distance is enough to make the experience of Mar

 

ine Corps recruit training hard. Pvt. Jonathan Dean, however, had two more reasons to stress during his time aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.Dean arrived at MCRD on Dec. 13, 2010. Just two weeks later, after spending Christmas apart from his family and his wife of nearly two years, Dean learned that his wife had given birth to twins.

“I received a Red Cross message the night of December 27,” said Dean. “Obviously, I knew they were going to be born while I was here (aboard MCRD), but it still came as quite a shock.”

After Dean received the news, he had a hard time concentrating on his training, according to Gunnery Sgt. Michael Blua, senior drill instructor, platoon 2171, Company H. (continue reading…)

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Rifle Training – Then and Now

1946 – 1950

Once World War II came to a close, Marine Barracks, Parris Island was renamed Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in September 1946, according to Eugene Alvarez, a researcher for the Marine Corps Historical Division.

Alvarez writes that along with the name change, women were allowed to return to the Corps on a permanent basis.

President Harry S. Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948, which caused the reactivation of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion for training women Marines, Alvarez writes. (continue reading…)

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Fighting to belong

America has traditionally been known around the world as the land of opportunity because of the many immigrants who come to the United States aspiring to a better life.

Some of them join the Armed Forces, which can also accelerate the process of gaining their citizenship and earning  the right to stay.

Erbol Bekmuratov, a recruit with Platoon 2012, Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, and an immigrant from Almaty, Kazakhstan, said he joined the Marine Corps for several reasons.

“I chose the Marines because when I moved here, I heard they were the best this country had, and I wanted to belong to it,” Bekmuratov said.

“I joined because I wanted to earn my citizenship quickly and get money for school once I get out,” Bekmuratov added.

Bekmuratov moved from his country to Philadelphia when he was 16, after his father received a job in the city. Once Bekmuratov was old enough to join the Corps, he spoke with a recruiter.

While citizenship can be a motivating factor to the decision to join the military, other reasons exist as well. (continue reading…)

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Marines train with UFC fighters


apt. Craig Schnappinger, right, series commander, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, blocks his face as Staff Sgt. David Gonzalez, martial arts instructor, Company G, 2nd Recruit Training Bn., prepares to use one of the new strikes they were taught by the Victory Fitness Center’s instructors here

Mixed martial artists and the Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters from the Victory Fitness Center, Point Loma, came to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego’s martial arts satellite school, Oct. 1, to teach servicemembers additional martial arts techniques.

“There are many military members that come to Victory Fitness Center,” said Elias Gallagos, an MMA instructor at the Victory Fitness Center. “I feel that by coming here we are giving back to them.”
Military members and their families who took time to go to the “dojo” learned a few different techniques from three different categories: striking from standing, take downs, and submissions.
“This is an awesome experience,” said Staff Sgt. James McFaline, martial arts instructor, Instructional Training Company, Support Battalion. “It’s a little extra knowledge for our ‘tool belt.’ It builds on what we already know and teaches us additional moves.”
It expands on the Marine Corps’ training, according to Gunnery Sgt. Francisco Galvan, martial arts instructor, ITC, Support Bn. It sparks interest outside of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, and gives a chance to grow as a martial artist. We get a chance to see where the MCMAP techniques originate.”
The instructors and fighters were interested to see each other’s commonalities. “It’s good to learn martial arts and to constantly be a learner,” said Shannon Gugerty, a UFC fighter from the Victory Fitness Center.
“It’s awesome to see that the Marines train the same as we do.”
While the Marines were happy to see the instructors and fighters, the guests seemed more excited that they got to spend time here with servicemembers.
“This is awesome,” said Tony Palafox, an MMA instructor at the Victory Fitness Center. “It’s amazing what we can do to help these guys in any situation, it’s tremendous.”
The guests were allowed to use the dojo’s training equipment before their class started during a mini-lesson from the Marines, according to Palafox.
The techniques that they taught the Marines seemed pretty effective, even in the practice stages, according to Sgt. Charles Roche, a MCMAP Instructor Trainer with ITC.
“The best part about coming here is the after affects,” said Gallegos. “Showing attendees they learned something, and the satisfaction that they know it and can use it to save their lives.”
When the session was over, attendees had more tools for their tool belts, and the instructors and fighters were able to see the results of their training.
“We are honored to come out here and help out our servicemembers,” said Palafox. “There is no speech I can make for it, we are just honored that you let us come here. With the military members being out there protecting us, we like to give back. It makes us feel like we are.”

Mixed martial artists and the Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters from the Victory Fitness Center, Point Loma, came to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego’s martial arts satellite school, Oct. 1, to teach servicemembers additional martial arts techniques.“There are many military members that come to Victory Fitness Center,” said Elias Gallagos, an MMA instructor at the Victory Fitness Center. “I feel that by coming here we are giving back to them.”

Military members and their families who took time to go to the “dojo” learned a few different techniques from three different categories: striking from standing, take downs, and submissions.

“This is an awesome experience,” said Staff Sgt. James McFaline, martial arts instructor, Instructional Training Company, Support Battalion. “It’s a little extra knowledge for our ‘tool belt.’ It builds on what we already know and teaches us additional moves.”

It expands on the Marine Corps’ training, according to Gunnery Sgt. Francisco Galvan, martial arts instructor, ITC, Support Bn. It sparks interest outside of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, and gives a chance to grow as a martial artist. We get a chance to see where the MCMAP techniques originate.”

The instructors and fighters were interested to see each other’s commonalities. “It’s good to learn martial arts and to constantly be a learner,” said Shannon Gugerty, a UFC fighter from the Victory Fitness Center. “It’s awesome to see that the Marines train the same as we do.”

While the Marines were happy to see the instructors and fighters, the guests seemed more excited that they got to spend time here with servicemembers.

“This is awesome,” said Tony Palafox, an MMA instructor at the Victory Fitness Center. “It’s amazing what we can do to help these guys in any situation, it’s tremendous.”

The guests were allowed to use the dojo’s training equipment before their class started during a mini-lesson from the Marines, according to Palafox.

The techniques that they taught the Marines seemed pretty effective, even in the practice stages, according to Sgt. Charles Roche, a MCMAP Instructor Trainer with ITC.

“The best part about coming here is the after affects,” said Gallegos. “Showing attendees they learned something, and the satisfaction that they know it and can use it to save their lives.”

When the session was over, attendees had more tools for their tool belts, and the instructors and fighters were able to see the results of their training.

“We are honored to come out here and help out our servicemembers,” said Palafox. “There is no speech I can make for it, we are just honored that you let us come here. With the military members being out there protecting us, we like to give back. It makes us feel like we are.”

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Caging the Warrior; Marine martial arts instructors participate in MMA

Robert Abrantes is relaxed, calm and collected. Each stroke is delivered carefully to his canvas. A design unfolds, and as time wears on, the finished product moves into focus. Working like a painter before an easel, Abrantes draws from an array of tools and techniques. However, he doesn’t use brushes and paint. Instead, he uses raw flesh and toned muscle. His blank canvas doesn’t rest on an easel – it’s the body of his opponent.
Sergeant Abrantes, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Sandlin are Martial Arts Instructor Trainers with the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at School of Infantry (East), Camp Geiger, N.C. In between the hours spent at their physically exhausting work, which begins as early as five in the morning and often goes until dark, they train and prepare themselves for their demanding past time – participation in mixed martial arts tournaments. (continue reading…)
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Drill Instructor Into Extreme Sports

Growing up in Pismo Beach, Calif., a drill instructor spent countless hours hitting the slopes on his snow board. But with the need for adrenaline coursing through his veins, the drill instructor wanted to test the excitement of other extreme sports.

After Staff Sgt. Heath A. Gomez, senior drill instructor, Platoon 2122, Company F, became a Marine, he remembered the time he spend in the mountains snowboarding and began surfing, riding dirt bikes and cycling.

His horizons broadened when his brother-in-law, a student at San Diego State University, asked him if he wanted to go surfing with him one morning. Gomez figured the water would be a lot warmer in San Diego than it was at Pismo Beach, so he opted to give it a try.

Although snowboarding and surfing have similarities, surfing didn’t come easy for Gomez.

“Both snowboarding and surfing are a balancing game and a test of good coordination,” said Gomez.

It took him a couple of weeks before he caught my first wave. When he stood up for the first time, he felt exhilarated because he was gliding on water, he said.

It’s that feeling when he caught that wave that kept him going back for more. (continue reading…)

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Meat Tags

The BBC recently did an news story on the use of Meat Tags within the USMC.

It is a grim reminder of the cost of war. But for marines based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, getting a meat tag – a tattooed copy of their vital information inked into their skin – means paying a visit to Jesse Mays before they head off to war.
“They’re used to identify a corpse. They’re not for the living.”
Jesse Mays is sitting on a stool in what he calls his “operating room” – a small room next to a vault. This building used to be a bank, he says. The heavy round vault door sits open, now filled with filing cabinets and canvases.
Lying shirtless on the black leather table next to him is Gunnery Sergeant Mike “Gunny” Greer, one arm raised over his head. Spiked restraints hang from the sides of the table. Jesse laughs and says they are just for fun, “unless you fidget too much.”
Jesse Mays has done over 30,000 tattoos in his career
The Sleeping Dragon Tattoo Parlor is in the small town of Jacksonville, just outside Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Inside the Dragon, as Jesse calls it, Bob Marley is both on the stereo and on the walls.

BBC (continue reading…)

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U.S. Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test Requirements

Background:

The United States Marine Corps requires that all Marines perform a Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and a Combat Fitness Test (CFT) once per fiscal year. Each test must have an interval of 6 months (same standards apply for reservists). The PFT ensures that Marines are keeping physically fit and in a state of physical readiness. It consists of pull-ups, crunches and a 3-mile run for males. For females it consists of flexed arm hang, crunches and a 3-mile run.
1 October 2008, the Marine Corps introduced the additional pass/fail Combat Fitness Test (CFT) to the fitness requirements. The CFT is designed to measure abilities demanded of Marines in a war zone

The United States Marine Corps requires that all Marines perform a Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and a Combat Fitness Test (CFT) once per fiscal year. Each test must have an interval of 6 months (same standards apply for reservists). The PFT ensures that Marines are keeping physically fit and in a state of physical readiness. It consists of pull-ups, crunches and a 3-mile run for males. For females it consists of flexed arm hang, crunches and a 3-mile run.1 October 2008, the Marine Corps introduced the additional pass/fail Combat Fitness Test (CFT) to the fitness requirements. The CFT is designed to measure abilities demanded of Marines in a war zone (continue reading…)

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Times have boot Marines heading to combat

The ongoing war on terror has created a situation within the Marine Corps similar to one that occurred during Vietnam – Marines going almost straight from basic training and military occupational school to war, with little time in between to receive additional training or to spend time with family.

Private First Class Chad A. Brown, 18, of Nederland, Texas, and more than 30 other fellow leathernecks of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division are prime examples. They checked into the battalion here Jan. 10 as riflemen and learned their new unit is deploying to Ar Ramadi, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom the end of February.

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Private First Class Chad A. Brown, 18, of Nederland, Texas, just joined 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, after graduating from the School of Infantry just down the road from here. The young Marine, not yet old enough to legally drink, learned he?ll soon deploy to Ar Ramadi, Iraq and fight the very same day he checked in

After attending Marine Corps Recruit Training and receiving more advanced training at the School of Infantry, Brown will soon find himself in combat and have to rely on the war fighting skills he so recently learned.

“It’s nerve raking because I don’t know what to expect,” said the young freckled faced fair skinned Marine who enlisted a day after turning 17. He needed his parents to sign legal consent papers.

Brown said he is in good spirits despite the deployment and the risks it brings. He’s motivated and welcomes the fact that he’ll soon be doing what he’s spent the last six months training for – fighting.

“I joined the Marines for the title, and to support my family,” said the newlywed and father of a five-month-old daughter. “I’ll get to spend at least six months with my family when I get back, before I have to deploy again.”

According to Staff Sgt. Javier L Vega Jr., 29, of Oceanside, Calif., and platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon, Weapon’s Company, Marines like Brown are ready.

“It’s a bonus being fresh out of SOI because they have quick obedience to orders,” Vega said. “Since day one (of their infantry career), they have been preparing for war. They have the ability.”

Vega said their time in a combat theater should sharpen their skill by forcing them to make decisions on their own.

He also offers encouragement to the new Marines by reminding them of the battalion’s history in Iraq. The upcoming deployment will be the second and, for some Marines, the third time to go there. “This is a combat experienced unit.”

Vega also said the new Marines won’t be thrown into the mix right away, but be supplemented instead.

“We will give them simple missions at first,” he said. “As their skills grow, so will their responsibilities with us.”

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The Importance of Gear

A  shot helmet, belonging to Lacey Springs, Ala., native Lance Cpl Bradley  A. Snipes, antitank assaultman, 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons  Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, rests on a benched marked as  property of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.

A shot helmet, belonging to Lacey Springs, Ala., native Lance Cpl Bradley A. Snipes, antitank assaultman, 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, rests on a benched marked as property of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.

The 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon took sniper fire all day as they conducted a relief in place with 1st Mobile Assault Platoon.

As Lacey Springs, Ala., native Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes, antitank assault man, 3rd MAP, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, sat in the turret of his hummer watching his assigned sector behind his M-2 .50 caliber machine gun, it happened.

?We were doing a relief in place with [1st MAP] and had been taking sniper fire across the wadi all day,? Snipes, the 21-year-old, 2002 graduate of Brewer High School, said. ?I was sitting in defilade, just my head above the turret when it felt like someone hit me in the head with a baseball bat.?

The sniper had shot Snipes square in the side of his head, hitting him directly in his Kevlar helmet.

?I was in shock, I didn?t know what happened. I remember thinking ?Am I still here??? he said.

Snipes dropped down in the turret. It was at that point he realized he was, in fact, still with the living thanks to his helmet. While inside the cab of the hummer, another shot tore through one of the handgrips of his .50 caliber machine gun, partially shattering it. The sniper then began focusing on the vehicles tires.

After a moment, he composed himself and raised his 5-foot-11-inch frame back up into the turret to engage the sniper with his machine gun.

Lacey  Springs, Ala., native Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes, antitank  assaultman, 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion,  6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team - 2, stands with the helmet  that saved his life. During a recent mission with his platoon, Snipes  was shot in the head by an enemy sniper. The only thing that saved his  life was the Kevlar helmet he wore.

Lacey Springs, Ala., native Lance Cpl. Bradley A. Snipes, antitank assaultman, 3rd Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team – 2, stands with the helmet that saved his life. During a recent mission with his platoon, Snipes was shot in the head by an enemy sniper. The only thing that saved his life was the Kevlar helmet he wore.

According to Cambridge, Ohio native 1st Lt. Jeremy S. Wilkinson, platoon commander, 3rd MAP, his own platoon?s organic firepower and a 500-pound bomb from overhead air support eventually silenced the sniper.

Bradley Snipes? life, though, was saved by his gear.

?I was really surprised. It?s supposed to be able to stop a 7.62mm round at long distances. Well, it did,? he said. ?The gear works, don?t doubt it. This is proof.?

Currently, Snipes, who is a veteran of combat operations in Afghanistan, is trying to keep his helmet as a memento.

?I want to put it in a case with a plaque that says ?The little bullet that couldn?t.??

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Teenager Keeping Weapons in Check

Lance Cpl. Christopher Ruiz, 19, battalion armorer, Headquarters  and Service Company, 3rd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force  (FWD), kneels next to the M240G machine gun he recently mounted to the  up armored humvee. Ruiz, a native of Santa Ana, Calif. is responsible  for all the weapons in the battalion?s armory. Photo by: Staff Sgt.  Ronna M. Weyland

Lance Cpl. Christopher Ruiz, 19, battalion armorer, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD), kneels next to the M240G machine gun he recently mounted to the up armored humvee. Ruiz, a native of Santa Ana, Calif. is responsible for all the weapons in the battalion?s armory. Photo by: Staff Sgt. Ronna M. Weyland

While many 19-year-olds juggle a busy college class load or their first part-time job back in the United States, one peer carries the responsibility of ensuring his battalion?s weapons are prepared for battle here.

?It is an awesome responsibility,? said Lance Cpl. Christopher Ruiz, 19, battalion armorer, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD). ?I don?t know too many 19-year-olds back home who can say the same thing about what they are doing.?

Ruiz, whose unit is based out of Marine Corps Base, Hawaii, has been in Iraq since May and is responsible for the battalion?s weapon arsenal.

?I am a one-man shop,? he said. ?But, I like having the responsibility. I ensure all the weapons are in proper working condition. If they don?t work when they need to someone?s life could be in jeopardy.?

According to his staff noncommissioned officer, he carries the responsibility well.

?We have our battalion spread out from here to Husaybah, near the Syrian border,? said Gunnery Sgt. Kent D. Cartmill, S-4 chief and native of Garden City, Kan. ?He is responsible for all the weapons. If there is a problem at another base, he flies out there to assess the situation, and diagnose whether the weapon can be fixed or if it needs to be brought in for repair. The job is always independent for him when he goes out.?

Ruiz also assists with other billets in the battalion.

?He has held the billet as a Marine Integrated Maintenance Management Systems clerk and supply clerk to assist others,? said Cartmill. ?He is well-rounded and very mature to take on tasks, as well as having a lot of initiative to go out and search for things that need to be done instead of waiting on someone to come to him.?

Ruiz had only been with his unit in Hawaii for a month before deploying to Iraq.

?He got to the battalion as a [private first class] straight from school and a month later we deployed,? said Cartmill. ?He came out here and has really stepped into the job running. All the reports come back positive.?

Ruiz joined the Marine Corps in August 2004, but said he has known he wanted to be a Marine since he was 7 years old.

?My step-dad was a Marine,? he said. ?Plus, when I saw the Marines on TV they appealed to me more than the other services.?

At first Ruiz wanted to be in the infantry. However, taking his uncle?s advice about jobs in the military, Ruiz decided to follow his footsteps and become an armorer.

When he found out he would be coming to Iraq, Ruiz broke the news to his family.

?My step-dad knew I was going to end up coming here,? explained Ruiz. ?My grandmother didn?t want me to come out here, but I told her not to worry. I said, ?If anything was going to happen to me it would happen no matter where I was.??

With more than three months of his deployment behind him now, he said his family still worries but they are supportive.

?The family still worries due to what they hear on the news,? said Ruiz.

His mother is one of those who shares in the worry.

?It makes me nervous he is in Iraq,? said his mother, Estella Matthews. ?He has been there since May and I pray for him each and every spare moment I have. I wish he was home with me, but I know, and he knows, he has a job to do and he won’t be coming home until the job is done.?

She said she has known since he joined the Corps he would end up in Iraq.

?I was very proud he wanted to join especially during these times, but he explained this is something he really wanted to do and he was willing to go to Iraq for his country,? she said.

Matthews, a native of Santa Ana, Calif., said her son has a very strong family support group back home.

?Christopher is a very independent, smart, caring young man,? she said. ?As his mother, I am so very proud of who he has become. I know part of that is due to the Marine Corps. I always knew he would become someone special. Since he was a child he has always shown leadership skills.?

Since boot camp, Matthews said she has noticed changes in her son.

?I was nervous to see him after boot camp, I was afraid that he may have changed,? she said. ?Well, he did change, my little boy was now a young man, he stood taller, he spoke with respect, his room was cleaner and his clothes were pressed. He was a United States Marine and he was proud!?

Now, with four months left on his first deployment, Ruiz is already looking ahead at his future in the Corps.

?I want to try and go to school,? he said. ?I am currently leaning toward reenlisting. I want to be in charge of others, to help them and others in the unit.?

Ruiz is currently working on Marine Corps Institute correspondence courses and recently won a meritorious promotion board and will be promoted to corporal Dec. 2.

?I have learned a lot from the people who lead me, especially how to lead other Marines,? he said. ?I want to take the knowledge back and develop a new leadership style.?

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Responsibility of a USMC Squad Leader

n the civilian world, you’re average 19-22 year-old is not normally laden with great responsibilities; but in the Marine Corps, young Marines are relied upon everyday to fill key leadership roles.

Many of the veteran squad leaders of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment, are young Marines under the age of 22.

Corporal Marcus J. Ward, 20-year-old squad leader for Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, leads a joint patrol through the city of Fallujah, Iraq, April 1. Most squad leaders for the battalion are undertaking their third deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Corporal Marcus J. Ward, 20-year-old squad leader for Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, leads a joint patrol through the city of Fallujah, Iraq, April 1. Most squad leaders for the battalion are undertaking their third deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Mostly corporals, these Marines are responsible for the accomplishment of their mission as well as the lives and well being of 12 or more Marines while conducting combat operations.

“Our job is to guide and direct our Marines, make tactical decisions for the squad and enforce the rules,” said Cpl. Marcus J. Ward, a 20-year-old squad leader with Company K.

Squad leaders for the battalion ensure their Marines receive serviceable gear, good living conditions, physical conditioning, proper training and supervision, according to Ward, a native of Butler, Pa.

Of their many responsibilities though, a squad leaders’ greatest task comes under a hail of gunfire.

Corporal Marcus J. Ward, 20-year-old squad leader for Kilo Co., 3rd  Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, flanked by Private  First Class Juan C. TovarPerez, 21-year-old rifleman for Kilo Co.,  communicates with the battalion during a joint patrol through Fallujah,  Iraq, April 1. Most squad leaders for the battalion are undertaking  their third deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Corporal Marcus J. Ward, 20-year-old squad leader for Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, flanked by Private First Class Juan C. TovarPerez, 21-year-old rifleman for Kilo Co., communicates with the battalion during a joint patrol through Fallujah, Iraq, April 1. Most squad leaders for the battalion are undertaking their third deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During combat, squad leaders are responsible for the very lives of their Marines, directing them through every step of the battle.

“Their lives depend on your decisions and how well you handle yourself under pressure,” Ward explained.

The Marines chosen for this burden of leadership are well prepared for the challenges they face.

During their time as rifleman, Marines are observed for a special blend of infantry skills, experience, toughness, intelligence, selflessness and communication skills, according to Gunnery Sgt. Jean-Paul Courville, the 32-year-old company gunnery sergeant for Company K.

“Time is the teacher,” said Courville, a native of Denham Springs, La. “Sometimes they’re baptized by fire, but most have time to build a foundation.”

Most of the battalion’s squad leaders are on their third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, making their responsibilities easier to shoulder.

While on patrol through a market in Fallujah, Iraq, Cpl. Marcus J.  Ward, 20-year-old squad leader for Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines,  Regimental Combat Team-8, directs his Marines and Iraqi soldiers to  maintain proper dispersion. Most squad leaders for the battalion are  undertaking their third deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

While on patrol through a market in Fallujah, Iraq, Cpl. Marcus J. Ward, 20-year-old squad leader for Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, directs his Marines and Iraqi soldiers to maintain proper dispersion. Most squad leaders for the battalion are undertaking their third deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“The more you’re in the position, the easier it becomes,” said Cpl. Miles J. Hill, 21-year-old squad leader with Company I.

The squad leaders of the battalion are proud to be in their positions as leaders and advisors, and see their responsibility as greater than that of the typical non-commissioned officer.

“I think it says a lot to be able to bear the burden of others’ lives,” said Hill, a native of Paul’s Valley, Okla.

Corporal Marcus J. Ward, 20-year-old squad leader for Kilo Co., 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, leads a joint patrol through the city of Fallujah, Iraq, April 1. Most squad leaders for the battalion are undertaking their third deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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Leadership and Tradition Combine

Despite an injury causing him to be medically discharged, one Company L Marine remained motivated enough to return here to accomplish his mission of becoming a Marine.
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First Class Ryan Chandler, Platoon 3245, graduated Marine Corps recruit training today, adding to his family�s legacy of military service.

Ryan comes from a family full of service members. He has two uncles and a cousin who are Marines, and both of his grandfathers were in the Navy. His father is also an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

“We have had a family member in every conflict the United States has fought in since the Chandler name has been in the country,” said Ryan�s father, Master Gunnery Sgt. Brad Chandler, operations chief, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. “The first conflicts the Chandlers were in were the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.”

Ryan grew up living the Marine Corps way of life. He watched his father work on Light Armored Vehicles and was around when his father served as a drill instructor in the same battalion he is now graduating. His father also served with Sgt. Maj. Robert Eriksson. Sgt. Maj. Eriksson is currently the sergeant major of the same battalion they served in, Third Recruit Training Battalion. Master Gunnery Sgt. Chandler was the senior drill instructor and Sgt. Maj. Eriksson was the senior green belt drill instructor of the same platoon for two cycles from 1992 to 1994.

Throughout high school, Ryan was among the top academically in his class. His family thought he would go to a university on a full-ride scholarship and were surprised when Ryan decided to join the military. He made the decision to join because he wanted to continue his family�s tradition and make a good life for himself.

His father, mother and stepmother took him into each of the military recruiting offices so he could make an educated decision on which branch of service he wanted to join.

“I�ll never forget what Ryan said when we walked out of the Air Force recruiter�s office,” said Cynthia Chandler, Ryan�s mother. “He looked at us and said, �I want to be a Marine.�”

Ryan�s family was a big inspiration to him. He had always wanted to follow in his father�s footsteps. He said he felt joining the Marine Corps was a good way to better himself and serve his country. He even chose infantry as his military occupational specialty in hopes of becoming an LAV crewman like his father.

“When Ryan decided on doing something, he would do it to the best of his ability and he wouldn�t stop until he finished what he started,” said Tammy Chandler, Ryan�s stepmother.

Ryan arrived on the depot in July 2005 and started training with Co. K. Unfortunately, he developed a hernia and was dropped to the Medical Rehabilitation Platoon. Due to his surgery, he spent more than five months in MRP before picking up training with Co. M.

While Ryan was in MRP, his father came to visit him before he went on deployment to Iraq.
“He told me no matter how long it took him, he would not stop until he was a Marine,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Chandler.

After a short time back in training, the hernia re-developed and Chandler was dropped to MRP once again. He was given the choice of staying at the depot for an additional six months or going home to recuperate. He chose to go home and spent a year in recovery.

When Ryan was home, he studied Marine Corps knowledge and stayed dedicated to going back to boot camp and accomplishing his mission of becoming a Marine. When his injury healed, Ryan reenlisted in the Marine Corps.

His mother commented she was not surprised when she received word of his decision. She said he had his heart set on being a Marine and that is what he would do.

On Oct. 23, Ryan returned to the depot for another try. He was given the guide position by his senior drill instructor the first day of training and maintained that position throughout his time at boot camp.

“He has a leader�s personality and having been through some training already, I think it gave him the upper-hand over the other recruits. He knew his knowledge and knew how to take charge,” said Sgt. Isaac Orta, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3245.

Ryan believes he has learned many important things from his training. He feels he has learned integrity and the traits of being a good leader. He also thinks these things, coupled with the continuing support of his family, will help him be successful in the Marine Corps and for the rest of his life.

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Job of a Drill Master

With a Marine Corps guidon streaming in front, Company H recruits  perform a rifle salute.

With a Marine Corps guidon streaming in front, Company H recruits perform a rifle salute.

In a small office decorated with Marine Corps art resides a Marine whose duties go unknown to the visitors of each graduating company on the depot.

Gunnery Sgt. Michael J. Mullins ensures perfection in almost every ceremony that takes place here. He is the Recruit Training Regiment drill master and takes charge of the three battalion drill masters on the depot.

Mullins, a native of Annapolis, Md., joined the Marines Dec. 12, 1990 with no intention of becoming a regimental drill master-a billet held by only two Marines in the Marine Corps. The other drill master is at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

After four years working as an ammunition technician, he took on the task of being a primary marksmanship instructor at Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Edson range, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Company H recruits move to right shoulder arms in unison during the  company�s final drill competition

Company H recruits move to right shoulder arms in unison during the company�s final drill competition

When he completed two years of teaching recruits how to accurately fire their weapons, he returned to his previous military occupational specialty before he decided to become a drill instructor in 1997.

After three years on the drill field Mullins returned to the Fleet Marine Force where he spent another five years as an ammunition technician. He then returned to the depot for another tour as a drill instructor.

Only six months into his second tour aboard the depot he was hand-picked by the sergeant major of RTR in 2005 to serve the Marine Corps as a regimental drill master.

“His love of the drill field brought him back,” said Staff Sgt. James D. Doss, narrator, RTR and native of Indianaplois. “The way he talks and feels about drill is beyond comparison of that of his peers.”

Mullins works with officers and depot staff by going over the ceremonial routine to perfect each graduation. In addition to these responsibilities, he is also tasked with coordinating retirement ceremonies, change of command ceremonies and most recently, the enlisted Marine Corps birthday ball.

Throughout an individual�s career in the Marine Corps, he will be reintroduced to the basics of drill that were first brought to his attention in boot camp. Whether it is simply standing at attention or saluting an officer, drill is something a Marine encounters daily.

“I�ve been out of boot camp for more than a year now, and I still use drill for things like physical training and ceremonies,” said Pfc. John A. Chretian, depot combat camera. “It was instilled in us for a reason. Everything we learned, we use.”

Left, Gunnery Sgt. Michael J. Mullins, drill master, Recruit  Training Regiment, looks on as the parade staff from Third Recruit  Training Battalion marches onto Shepherd Memorial Drill Field.

Left, Gunnery Sgt. Michael J. Mullins, drill master, Recruit Training Regiment, looks on as the parade staff from Third Recruit Training Battalion marches onto Shepherd Memorial Drill Field.

While the recruits are in boot camp, their drill instructors teach them everything they need to know about drill whether it is standing in formation for uniform inspections or reporting to a new unit. The drill masters from each battalion help test these skills during drill competitions, where they critique the drill instructors� recruits and recommend improvements.

Mullins has to ensure that each battalion is consistent in its execution of drill movements. His peers say he meets and exceeds the standards of drill master by going out of his way to seek perfection in all that he does.

One of the purposes of drill is to instill discipline and instant, willing obedience to orders in the recruits who pass through the depot during their 13-week training cycle.

During Company H�s final drill competition, recruits execute a  drill technique called sling arms.

During Company H�s final drill competition, recruits execute a drill technique called sling arms.

“A basically-trained Marine is introduced to the basics of drill throughout training, whether it is in the squad bay or on the parade deck,” said Mullins.

Drill in itself is the building-block from which all recruits learn how to be Marines, Mullins said.

Drill instructors spend more time on drill than anything else in boot camp, he added. Everything recruits go through is important, and the discipline they need to accomplish those tasks is provided through drill.

Drill has been an essential part of the Marine Corps� past and will continue to be a part of its future. Although some aspects may change, the concept of drill assisting in the making of Marines will remain the same, said Mullins.

While holding his sword in the carry position, Sgt. Andrew J.  Stitt, senior drill instructor, Platoon 2035, Company H, barks drill  commands to his Marines during their final drill competition.

While holding his sword in the carry position, Sgt. Andrew J. Stitt, senior drill instructor, Platoon 2035, Company H, barks drill commands to his Marines during their final drill competition
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