ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq --
To answer the call when the country needs them is the job of Marine Corps reservists. They lead normal civilian lives and deploy when their services are needed.
Staff Sgt. Jason M. Perez has been with Company D, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Reserve Company, since it was formed in 1998.
“When I got out of active duty, I was in an infantry reserve unit, said Perez, 34, from Brooklyn N.Y., who is a tank crewman. “When they turned my reserve unit into a tank unit, we were just the size of a platoon.”
Now a full fledged company, Perez is able to contribute his experience to the unit, not only from the Marine Corps, but also his training in the Los Angeles Police Department, where he serves when not on active duty.
“I have used my police training more on this deployment than I even do at home,” said Perez.
The calmer environment of this deployment has leaned more towards intelligence collecting and less on pulling the trigger.
“If we dismount, he is one of the only vehicle commanders that will help with searching and questioning,” said Sgt Justin P. Howarth, 25, from Glendora Calif., who is a communications technician for Charlie Company.
Attention to detail has paid off several times for Perez.
“Stemming from his police training, he keeps a notepad on him with facts and descriptions in it,” said Howarth.
One time, after returning from an operation, Perez was able to identify an individual they had detained and questioned.
“He was able to remember the grid where we stopped the guy, and they went out and picked him up,” said Howarth.
Perez’s devotion to his job is evident in his work ethic and his dedication to his fellow Marines.
“He is one of the coolest guys in the Marine Corps,” said Howarth. “If you ever have a problem, he will help you out.”
In Perez’s many years with the Marines, he has seen both a peaceful Iraq and a country at war.
“I remember one time during Operation Iraqi Freedom, we were traveling in column and my platoon was leading the company when we were engaged by the 51st Iraqi Mechanized Infantry,” said Perez.
“A T-55 Iraqi Tank fired first from the left and then another from the right; our two tanks were able to swing over and hit both enemy tanks in under two minutes and then we opened fire with our co-axel 240,” said Perez.
“There were a lot of small fights during that deployment but that one was so memorable for me,” said Perez.
During this deployment, Delta Company has seen a significant decrease in the number of engagements.
“The most memorable thing about this deployment is the quiet, which is good,” said Perez.
Though he has spent many years in the Corps, Perez feels he is nearing the end of his Marine Corps career.
“It has been a good run”, said Perez, “I have been in since I was 18 years old, and I have enjoyed it.”