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Navy chief warrant officer leads Marine platoon in Iraq

6 Mar 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Navy CWO3 Jeffrey D. Fishel’s mother should have listened to him 27 years ago when he was 17 and said he wanted to be a Marine.

“After telling my mother of my choice to join the Marine Corps, she said no,” said 44-year-old Fishel, from San Diego. “She told me the only way she would sign is if I joined another branch.  I chose the Navy.”

These days, Fishel’s wearing the Marine Corps digital pattern uniform, serving as platoon commander for Mobile Assault Platoon 3, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment working with Regimental Combat Team 5. 

“I’ve got a great bunch of Marines,” Fishel said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to work with these men, especially to lead them in combat.”

Fishel’s not new to the Corps’ way of doing business.  Aside from his long career in Navy blue, he’s served with the battalion since 2003.  He originally came to the Corps’ ranks as the naval gunfighter liaison officer. At the end of his second battalion deployment, he was given the position of a platoon commander in Weapons Company.

“After seeing my performance at Twentynine Palms during training exercises, they made me the platoon commander of one of the new MAP teams,” Fishel said.

“His experiences in the Navy made him more than qualified for the task of being our platoon commander,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Browne, the 28-year-old platoon sergeant for MAP 3 from Willits, Calif.

Fishel has taken part in 16 deployments and spent 6 years overseas during his time in the Navy. He doesn’t have to command the respect of his men after 26 years in the Navy.  He’s earned it.
“He has a lot of experience,” said Cpl. Paul A. Bennett, a 21-year-old squad leader with MAP 3 from San Diego. “The warrant officer has seen a lot in his 26 years in.  He seems to genuinely care for his Marines and their well being.”

That sentiment was echoed by Cpl. Tyler L. Huffman, a 21-year-old assaultman with MAP 3.

“I worked with security forces in Washington state before I came to 1/1,” said Huffman from Elko, Nev. “As far as I can see, he runs this unit as tight as any Marine officer I have seen.  I don’t think the battalion would put someone in charge who wasn’t able to do the job.”

In part, because of Fishel’s leadership, the Marines of Weapons Company had the highest percentage in the battalion for re-enlistments within a single platoon. 

“Out of the guys, I had 20 to either re-enlist or extend in order to be able to come back over here with me,” Fishel added. “It makes me proud to know I have this great group of men with me.”

Fishel has been married for 22 years to his wife Vikki who is 41-years-old, his daughter Ashley is 22-years-old and his son Jeffery Jr. is 19-yeas-old. Having a large family at home and a large family here makes the deployment more bearable. 

“When I say we have a great group of guys it’s really not saying it all,” Fishel said. “The Marines are a tight knit group, but this platoon is even tighter. It’s like a family.”

That’s not just for the Marines who are chalking up their second and third tours together.  It’s also the new Marines straight from the School of Infantry.

“A lot of these Marines have been together for other tours here, and the newer Marines have fallen right into the spots that were open,” Browne said.

“The family atmosphere and the respect the Marines have for their leadership is evident in the way they perform,” Fishel explained. “The Marines of MAP 3 have the reputation of being the best platoon in the battalion.”