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1st Marine Division

 

1st Marine Division

Camp Pendleton, CA
Jack of all trades: Marines take different roles to keep camp safe, running

By Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes | | September 3, 2004

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When approaching a gate guard here, chances are the guard won't be a rifleman. Many of the jobs here involving security and morale and welfare are done by Marines least likely to fill those positions."I'm a combat engineer but they've got me manning a gate. It has it's good and it's bad points," said Lance Cpl. Jason P. Brewer, 21, of Muskegon, Mich. He added, "The rest of the engineers are always outside the wire, but I have a set schedule."Brewer knows all too well the banes and blessings of being assigned to protect the base."I know every day I'll have time to get a pizza and take a shower. If I was with my platoon, there would be no telling where I'd be during the day or night," he said.Brewer and the other Marines reassigned to ensure the base's safety are gaining experiences they would never get in their own field."I see everyone who comes to the gate so I have a good view of what life in our area is like for Iraqis," Brewer said. "I see the poverty and people with scars on them that just make me say, 'God!'"But Brewer's skills are not wasted on his position, either."We have a good mixture of people out there on the gates. We've got communications Marines who can troubleshoot radios, motor transport Marines who know how to really get inside a vehicle to check it and engineers who know about explosives," said Gunnery Sgt. Duane D. Dixon, the battalion ordnance chief and native of Aberdeen, Md. Dixon is one of the guard chiefs here as well. He added, "We have a very proficient crew here ... they're getting different experiences than they would if they'd have stayed with their sections."Riflemen aren't exempt from being placed in jobs outside their sphere of knowledge either. Morale, welfare and recreation facilities on the base such as the gym and Internet café are manned by infantrymen."I'd rather be out with my Marines but I'm learning a lot working here," said Cpl. Alberto Arjonn, 23, a rifleman of Bronx, N.Y. "This is pretty relaxed compared to what I'm used to, but sometimes it gets really hectic in here with people coming and going. I've had to work a lot on my people skills. I know that'll help me out in the future no matter what I'm doing."In addition, the gym and Internet center allow the Marines to come in contact with people they'd normally never meet."I deal with all kinds of different people in here. Normally I wouldn't meet people from outside my company but here I see people who I'd never come in contact with otherwise," said Arjonn.Despite the challenges Marines may face by working outside their normal areas of expertise, they are still able to succeed."These Marines have been doing this for two months so they all have a good idea of what they're doing," Dixon said. He added that it proves Marines can accomplish whatever mission is put in front of them, whether the mission is highly stressful or somewhat relaxing.
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