Featured News

One Marine proves he’s up for the challenge

13 Mar 2006 | 1st Lt. Nathan Braden

Marine noncommissioned officers understand that responsibility comes with the job, but for one young NCO, he didn’t expect it to come so soon.

Cpl. Jonathan B. “Blake” Little, 20, an assault amphibian vehicle crewman with Company A, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion from Bennett, N.C. was recently made crew chief for two assault amphibian vehicles. 

A crew chief is responsible for his vehicle and everything on it, including any cargo or troops.

“I didn’t think I would get this much responsibility this early,” Little said, who was a vehicle driver when the company deployed to Iraq last year.  “I thought I would be a good driver at the end of the deployment, but I had no idea I’d get to be a crew chief this early.” 

To further add to his list of responsibilities, Little, who was promoted to corporal Feb. 1, was made the crew chief for two different types of assault amphibian vehicles, a C-7 command variant and a P-7 troop carrying variant. 

“He’s in a unique position because he’s responsible for two vehicles, the C-7 and a P-7,” said Sgt. Mark. W. Fitzwater, 23, a section leader with Headquarters platoon from Avon, N.Y. on his 3rd deployment to Iraq. “The only similarities between the two is the power train and the suspension.”

The C-7 provides the company commander a mobile platform to command and control his maneuver platoons.  The P-7, dubbed “the chase” is the standard troop carrying variant which always accompanies the C-7 during field operations as a support vehicle.

Little had to thoroughly learn the responsibilities of being a crew chief before he could take a vehicle off Camp Fallujah.  He was recently tasked to take his command vehicle out for the first time during the company’s last eight day operation.

“I was made a crew chief four months ago but there has always been a sergeant training me,” said Little, a 2004 graduate of Eastern Randolph High School.  “This is the first time I’ve gone out solo.” 

“This is Little’s debut,” said Capt. William J. Gibbons, Jr., commanding officer for Company A, a 32-year-old from Toms River, N.J.  “The command and control can have an impact on the success or failure of a company operation and the C-7 plays a big role in that.  He has an important job and it says a lot about him.”

Little, on his first deployment to Iraq, is one of only three Marines in the company to pick-up the billet of crew chief during the company’s deployment to Iraq.  

“It’s a tough thing to learn and there is more pressure for him to succeed because of this operation and because he has risen faster than his peers,” Fitzwater said. 

The vehicles see a lot of time on the roads and they require constant maintenance, especially when preparing operations.

“The week before and the week after he’s totally concentrating on the vehicles,” Fitzwater added. 

Little pays extra attention to the C-7 because of the importance the vehicle plays during operations.

“It’s a little scary because there are a lot of commands coming out of my vehicle,” Little said.  “I have to maintain my vehicle because if my vehicle goes down it could stop the whole mission.”

In addition, before and after a mission, Little is constantly taking care of his vehicles.

“He’s always wanting to come out and work on the vehicles,” Fitzwater verified.

In addition to rank and a new billet, Little gained something else during his deployment - a deeper appreciation for how good people have it in America.

“People back home are always complaining and wanting to go on welfare,” Little said.  “But out here people are living in clay huts and little kids run around with no shoes.  Back home we have malls and restaurants, the cities here look demolished.  People take too much stuff for granted.” 

Even though Little has accomplished several professional goals during his deployment, he already has plans to continue working his way up the chain.   

“I want to work on being a good NCO and work on picking up sergeant,” said Little, who hopes to eventually train new recruits as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, S.C.

“As a recruit, P.I. was hell.  But on graduation day I finally got to look around and I saw that it was a pretty place,” said Little, who has family members living in the nearby cities of Beaufort and Charleston.  “I really respected my Senior D.I., he was smart and I really like drill.”

Little also has more immediate plans for he return to the states.

“When I get home I want to get in my truck, listen to the radio and relax with my family,” said Little.

“I’m also going to sup up the engine, add some big tires and put in some lift,” Little added when thinking about the 2003 Chevy Silverado he purchased eight months before deploying.