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Wisconsin native keeps Marines, Iraqi soldiers combat ready

30 Jun 2006 | Cpl. Graham A. Paulsgrove

The man responsible for roughly 1,000 Marines’ ammo isn’t a Marine sitting behind a desk, wielding his power and influence from his air conditioned office – it’s a 21-year-old Marine running around in the dry heat of western Iraq.

Meet Cpl. David M. Jeske – a gruff Marine from Auburndale, Wis., and the senior ammunition technician for 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion – the U.S. Marine unit assigned to this region of Iraq’s western Al Anbar province.

The battalion is charged with maintaining security and stability in their area of operations – a region in Al Anbar province of mostly desert littered with small towns, stretching from the Jordanian border about 120 miles east towards the Euphrates River.

Without Jeske, the battalion’s ammunition chief, the Marines and their partnered Iraqi forces operating in the area would not have the ammunition they need to combat insurgents and provide security to the region.

It’s Jeske’s job, which is normally filled by two Marines of higher rank, to maintain and issue ammunition to coalition and Iraqi military forces operating throughout the battalion’s area of operations — a  region of mostly desert littered with small towns, stretching from the Jordanian border about 120 miles east.

The ammo chief is responsible for keeping track of all munitions issued to U.S. troops – ranging from bullets of various calibers to rockets, according to Staff Sgt. Jason S. Cinkosky, the battalion’s embark chief and one of Jeske’s superiors.

“By filling a billet above his pay grade and (with) one man less, proves his invaluable capabilities to completing the mission, from giving one Marine two to three rounds to resupplying a whole platoon. He never fails,” said Cinkosky, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

To complete the missions, military forces operating in the battalion’s area must have logistical support, or as the Marines call it, the “three ‘Bs,’ – beans, bullets and band aids.”

Jeske provides the bullets. “[His job is] vital to our mission here in Iraq – without bullets, we’re useless and can’t do our job,” said Staff Sgt. Corey A. Price, the battalion’s logistics chief and another of Jeske’s superiors. “He usually works at least 12 hours every day of the week and it’s not unusual for him to work 20 hours.”

In addition to his ammo-related duties, Jeske also provides logistical support for other Coalition convoys that roll in and out of the camp. He coordinates and tracks the munitions to ensure they get to the right people at the right base.

“Convoys come in at all times of the day, and I help with the loading and off-loading of the equipment and supplies,” said Jeske. “I stay pretty busy.”

Despite his time-consuming job, the 6-foot-3-inch Marine makes time to go to the gym a few times a week and is one of the battalion’s Catholic lay readers.

“I spend half the time outside and the other half in an office,” said Jeske, the second youngest of five siblings. “And I know [my job] plays a big role in the Marines’ training and operations.” 

From August 2004 to March 2005, Jeske deployed to Iraq for his first time with the battalion, where he was meritoriously promoted to lance corporal and awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his hard work supplying ammo to units operating in the area. During major combat operations in Fallujah in November 2004, Jeske ensured the battalion had the ammo needed to operate during four-plus weeks of combat.

“If he worked half as hard [the last deployment] as he does this time around, he definitely deserves that award,” said Cinkosky, 27. “Despite his obsession with NASCAR and Jeff Gordon, he is great to have around.”

Despite the occasional ribbing from his “higher-ups,” Jeske’s hard work is noticed. “We give him a hard time every now and then, but he’s a good guy and the epitome of a hard worker. He does everything and asks for nothing in return,” said Price, a 29-year-old from Moorehead, Minn. “I’d take him over anyone else out here.”

Only two-and-a-half years into his stint in the Marine Corps, Jeske is still undecided on his future in the military, but he is keeping his options open.

“I like my job, and the Marine Corps has a lot of good options, but I haven’t made my mind up on what to do next,” he said.

Jeske, who graduated Auburndale High School in 2003, says he plans on spending time with his friends, family, and girlfriend of two years when he returns to the states, and he will invest the money he saved during his tour. 

Email Cpl. Paulsgrove at: paulsgrovepa@gcemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil