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Admin to Grunt: Battalion Commander’s eyes and ears

16 Aug 2008 | Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

A Marine underwent an immense transition from monitoring pay to becoming the eyes and ears of the battalion commander.

Cpl. Galen J. Staats, a scout with Jump Platoon, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, is an administrative clerk-turned rifleman who became the personal scribe for the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Russell E. Smith, 44.

“Getting to work with the infantrymen and the CO and to experience what they do everyday is very rewarding to me,” said Staats, 21, from Norfolk, Va. “It’s something I found that I’m good at. I can’t just be good at a job behind a desk.”

Staats joined the Marine Corps after struggling through high school and enduring an expulsion. He wanted to change his life and pursue something different.

“I knew that I didn’t want to go to college and that I wanted to do something that not many people do, and that’s join the Marine Corps,” he said. “A lot of Marines say they wanted to do something different, but I was one of those guys who really stands by those words.”

After joining the Marines, Staats served one deployment as an admin clerk and returned home safely to his family. He was training up for his second deployment when things changed drastically.

“I remember it all started at the combined-arms exercise when sergeant major was yelling through the fence, asking if any of the admin clerks can write for the CO,” he said. “I of course raised my hand, and I guess he liked the job I did, so that is when I was attached to the jump.”

Now on his second deployment, Staats has been by the commanding officer’s side for everything, and attends to guests who visit the CO, engaged in operations, provided protection for the CO and memorized all information during Smith’s encounters.

“Staats is a vital asset of the battalion’s mission to re-build western Iraq and assist its citizens by acting as the scribe,” said Sgt. Maj. David W. West, 45, sergeant major of 2nd LAR. “We greatly appreciate all of his efforts and enjoy his enthusiasm and passion in his assignment.”

West, from Terre Haute, Ind., added that Staats is a great Marine and believes he will continue to be a quality member of the Marine Corps.

“He’s combat administration at its finest. He gets to do a lot of awesome stuff that normal admin clerks aren’t able to do,” said Cpl. M. Eric Humphries, 21, an administrative clerk from Woodlands, Texas, with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd LAR. “He’s proving that every Marine is a rifleman.”

Staats can now be found either reading or talking with his three brothers, one of whom serves in the Army and another in the Air Force. According to him, he’s very proud of his brothers and his own service in the military.

“My twin brother in the Army is being commissioned pretty soon and I’m going to present him his first salute,” said Staats. “The only mission now is getting my younger brother to join the Navy, that way we will fill all of the main military services.”

Since arriving in the platoon, Staats, nicknamed by the jump platoon ‘Groceries,’ for his love of eating, has earned the respect and friendship of his fellow Marines. He will continue to assist the jump platoon and the commanding officer to the best of his abilities.

“It’s a blessing to be part of something I’m extremely proud to do when I’m with the jump (plt.),” said Staats. “I’ve been able to experience the real Marine Corps, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Staats plans to return to his hometown of Norfolk, Va., and work as a clerk with Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, Marine Corps Forces Command.