Photo Information

Corporal Randy Cripe, a squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Lima Company, talks to a local Afghan child while patrolling Feb. 27, 2012. Cripe, currently deployed with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, patrolled, with his squad, to talk to local Afghan leaders and to detain a suspected insurgent.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy J. Lenzo

Texas Marines a ‘jack-of-all-trades’

27 Feb 2012 | Lance Cpl. Timothy J. Lenzo 1st Marine Division

Despite it being the hottest day in months, the Marine patrols with a constant smile, making jokes with his friends and smiling with the locals, Feb. 27.

        Marines with 2nd Platoon, Lima Company, called Lance Cpl. Nicholas Wurst a jack-of-all-trades.

        “I move around a lot between positions in the patrol,” said Wurst, currently deployed with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

        While deployed to Sangin, Wurst worked in many billets; navigator, team leader, sweeper security, marker, rear security and more, Afghanistan.

        “I adapt really well,” said Wurst, a native of Lubbock, Texas. “I’m pretty good at doing what needs to be done.”

        Wurst’s ability to adapt made him a valuable asset to his squad and leaders.

        “He’s my go-to-guy,” said Cpl. Randy Cripe, Wurst’s squad leader. “He makes sure jobs get done. If I have a task to be completed, I can just let him know.”

        Wurst proved on numerous occasions while deployed that he could handle whatever Cripe asked of him.

        “Whether it’s being a navigator, picking the routes or just being in the back as a team leader with a radio, whatever I need him to do he just does it,” said Cripe, a native of Middlebury Ind. “It’s really the most impressive thing that anyone can do here. It’s very valuable to have someone like that.”

        Wurst said sometimes, as the marker, he discussed route selection with Cripe, reviewing choke points or risk areas, and the next day, he’s rear security, watching for ambushes.

        Cripe said it’s nice to know if anything were to happen to him, Wurst could step in as squad leader and take care of the Marines.

        His playful mentality and unique ability to play guitar, helped Wurst with keeping spirits up while deployed.

        “I started out playing bass guitar, but I’ve been playing six-string acoustic and electric (guitar) for the last six to seven years now,” added Wurst.

        Wurst developed a reputation to play songs for the Marines when on base. He relied on his humor and musical skill to keep the unit together and have fun while deployed.

        “I try to keep everyone else in good spirits,” said Wurst. “I do this pirate thing around the platoon, and different voices, I play guitar, I do a lot of improvisation stuff on our off time.”

        Wurst kept a guitar with him while deployed, for the chance to make up his own songs and help pass the time.

        “It’s about making people laugh,” said Wurst. “If other people are happy I tend to be happy, so if I can put everybody in a good mood then I’m usually in a good mood.”

        While the Marines sat in their tents, Wurst pulled his guitar out, strummed a few chords and began singing about a few of the Marines in the squad. The other Marines noticed and turned as Wurst poked fun at the Marines with lighthearted lyrics. The crowd laughed at the end of each refrain, as Wurst smiled before ending the song. with applause from the squad.

        Wurst kept his positive attitude through the entire deployment, focusing on the good he saw.

        “I think as time goes by you start to notice a difference from last year,” said Wurst. “People used to be afraid to come around the patrols, and now you constantly have kids coming up asking for candy and wanting to shake your hands.”

        Wurst said last year they were constantly engaged in firefights, and to see the deployment almost over and they haven’t gotten into a single fight is huge.

        Marines with the platoon said they were proud, knowing they played a role in removing insurgents from the area.

1st Marine Division