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All hands pitching in for security duties

23 May 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

The phrase ‘every Marine is a rifleman’ has never rang so true for Marines assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

More than 40 Marines, with non-infantry based military occupational specialties, are standing guard in the battalion’s area of operation.

“We are doing what we are here to do,” said Lance Cpl. Corii N. Shaw, a 20-year-old field wireman from Augusta, Ga.  “The whole purpose of a service company is to support the line companies.  That is what we are here doing, just in a more ‘hands-on’ way.”

The battalion’s operational tempo is at an all-time high for this deployment.  That pace was draining on the infantry Marines, so commanders looked for a solution.  More than three weeks ago, Marines from H&S Company were called up. They were activated to free up the infantry Marines to conduct more patrols.

“We all have different MOSs,” said Lance Cpl. Paulo C. Albavera, a 22-year-old machine gunner from Chicago, Ill. “I started off working in a line company, but I have been working as a mail clerk in the battalion for a while now.”

Albavera was pulled to duties in H&S Company after recovering from a medical illness.  His first-hand experience coming from the ‘grunts’ gave him a good perspective on what the service Marines are doing.

“I know if I was still in my old company I would appreciate these Marines coming out here to do this,” Albavera said. “We are freeing them up to be able to do their job better without having to worry about standing a post after a long day of patrolling.”

Albavera is one of the few with an infantry background on which to draw on.  The Marines on guard come from an array of MOSs.  Administration clerks, wiremen and ammunition technicians alike stand guard and duty as the battalion’s Quick Reaction Force. 

“I know that we are always told every Marine is a rifleman, but I would have never thought I would be out here doing this on my deployment,” Shaw said.

The Marines said the job they are doing isn’t difficult, just time consuming. All agreed no matter how mundane, they are an asset to the companies.

“I like to think we are helping out,” said Lance Cpl. Edwin Lopez Jr., a 21-year-old administration clerk from Killeen, Texas. “It may be a small part, but we are pulling our weight.”

The guard is on call for a most of the day.  During their off time they rest, recuperate and prepare for their next round of duty.

Lance Cpl. Richard R. Klun, a 20-year-old administration clerk from Marathon, Wis., said the shifts rotate from standing guard to duty with the QRF and back to guard.

“After our last post we are on rest for several hours while another group starts the rotation,” Klun said.

Getting to leave the wire and get dirty with the infantry Marines has given these Marines a look at the other side of a deployment – one away from their original jobs. The experience offered them all a look into the lives Marines on the front lines.

“I have definitely got a greater appreciation for what the ‘grunts’ are out here doing,” Shaw said. “I have gotten to see a little bit of what their lives are like during a deployment.”