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Every Marine pitching in for duties in ‘America’s Battalion’

23 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran

No one gets a free ride in 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

“America’s Battalion” Marines who were formerly a part of Headquarters and Service Company are now attached to G Company to provide security. They are responsible for keeping Observation Post Riviera secure from any attacks.

“This is an example of every Marine being a rifleman,” said Pvt. William A. Rosales, a 24-year-old field wireman from Rialto, Calif. “I am supposed to do communication and now I am guarding Marines.”

The guard force is responsible for many different posts within the OP. The guard’s main mission is to protect the observation post from any attacks. Their job is important because G Company did not have enough Marines to run patrols in the area of operations and keep the post secure.

“Our job is important because the company has platoons going out on patrols or resting from patrols,” said Pvt. Cryspin P. Nystrom, a 19-year-old field wireman from Warren, Pa. “Guard force keeps the main post secure, while the infantrymen take care of the AO.”

The posts are set-up to ensure that no one can enter the OP without permission. Marines standing watch are armed with rifles or machine guns.  Theirs is the first and last word on who gets into the post.

“I make sure that no one comes in,” said Lance Cpl. Mark A. Hamilton, a 20-year-old food service Marine from Brunswick, Ga. “It’s military personnel in this OP only, so I know what to look for.”

Inside the posts, Marines watch areas where insurgents can attack. Any suspicious cars or people are immediately reported and tracked.  Nothing goes unnoticed. The posts are manned 24 hours-a-day.  They keep their vigil in the heat of the day, and during the quiet hours of the night, they maintain their watch under the green haze of night vision goggles.

It’s not all just straight watch duties for Marines guarding the OP here.  The guard force also helps around the post with the knowledge of their specific specialties. When wiremen aren’t on post behind their weapons, they’re fixing radios and helping with communications. All members of the security team assist G Company in their off time.

They even cook.

“I help in preparing the food and work my post,” Hamilton said. “The other Marines on guard do the same thing.”

The adjustment for the Marines from headquarters duties to that on the front line has been easy.  That’s because they’re working with their brothers – fellow Marines. The hiccups and stumbling blocks of assuming new duties were smoothed over and their role is as regular as clockwork.  They don’t miss a beat and the OP is as safe now for Marines as it’s ever been.

The guard force isn’t resting on its’ heels, though.  They’re looking to take on greater responsibilities, hoping to offset some of the burden shouldered by the infantry Marines they’re supporting.

“We might be doing patrols soon,” Rosales said. “Anything that comes up we’re ready for it.”