Featured News

Some of the Corps' newest Marines shine in Iraq

3 May 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

Pfc. Huy N. Troung looks as fresh-faced as any 19-year-old Marine.  He still wears uniforms with boot camp markings.  He's chalked up less than one year's service in the Marine Corps, but in Fallujah, he's learning that what little training he's gotten has taken him far.

Troung was more than surprised when he checked into Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment late last year.  Not only did he get the news he'd be deploying to Iraq, he found out he'd be filling in as an infantryman, instead of the mortarman role for which he trained.

"When I checked in after graduating in November, I was told I would become an 0311 because they were short, so I had to hurry up and learn another job," Troung said.  "About a month after we checked into 2/1, we found out we were going.  Training was stressful at first, but the saltier Marines gave us pretty good training."

The learning curve was steep.  Not only did Troung have to learn a new role, but he missed out on much of the advanced training he'd need in Iraq.  The School of Infantry taught the basics, but the lessons he'd come to rely upon didn't start adding up until the closing weeks before deploying.

Troung is seasoned now, more than he probably ever wanted.  He wears a Purple Heart, awarded after sustaining injuries from a rocket-propelled grenade in Fallujah.

Troung wasn't the only one.  Pfc. Miles. J. Guthrie, another 19-year-old, also with Company E joined the unit just prior to deploying.  Like Troung, he now wears a Purple Heart, the result of an improvised explosive device.

Guthrie said that the training they did receive, such as the security and stabilization training at March Air Reserve Base, was effective and wished they had more experience fighting inside cities prior to deploying.

"We only received about one week of (urban training) and that's helped us a lot - especially in Fallujah," Guthrie said. "SASO training at March Air Base also helped."

"They combined the tactics used last year and what we might expect this year during our training," Troung added.  "The training seemed overwhelming, but I think it was enough.  You can't train for everything."

Staff Sgt. Pete Marrufo, a platoon sergeant with Company E said even the staff noncommissioned officers wanted more training for all ranks.  He said even the small things help.

"Even staff NCOs feel more training like learning more about the language would've helped a lot," Marrufo said.

Marines have adapted to the mission, he explained.  His unit deployed here hoping to perform more civil affairs roles than that of traditional rifle companies.

"We found ourselves doing basic infantry tactics," Marrufo said  "It boils down to the basics."

Sgt. Justin M. Rettenberger, a squad leader in Company E, said he trusts that the younger Marines in the company are ready for more challenges.

"You can never have enough training, but the training they've received has been enough so far," Rettenberger explained.  "You don't know how someone will react on the battlefield through training, but these young guys have accomplished every mission they've encountered.  The training always kicks in."