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1st MarDiv CG: "You're the best of the best"

19 Aug 2009 | Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, visited the Marines and sailors of Headquarters Company, 7th Marine Regiment, here Aug. 10, as the regiment entered the final days of its pre-deployment exercise.

The "Magnificent Seventh" is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan as part of Regimental Combat Team 7, to conduct counterinsurgency operations as the ground combat element of Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan.

Before joining them for hot chow, Mills, spoke to the Marines and sailors of 7th Marines about how important their pre-deployment training is to mission success.

“Over in Afghanistan, there is no rear. Everyone is on the front lines,” said Mills, a native of Huntington, N.Y. “Everybody needs to be proficient in those basic skills. We talk about every Marine being a rifleman. Where you’re going is where that’s exactly important.”

“No matter where you are, you’re going to be exposed to the enemy. No matter where you are, you need to be prepared to engage. Do what Marines do, engage quickly, overcome the enemy and come away victorious,” Mills said.

Mills also stressed the need for Marines of regiment to work as a team, follow the laws of war and positively influence the people of Afghanistan.

Throughout his address, Mills continued to express his and the nation’s support for the regiment. 

“I’m proud of what you are doing, your families’ are proud of you, your country is proud of you,” said Mills. “They aren’t a whole lot of people in your age group that can do what you do. Carry this gear around twenty-four-seven, be proficient with your weapon system and eat out of a little brown bag every once in a while. You’re the best of the best.”

Pfc. David A. Mantilla, a food service specialist with Headquarters Company, 7th Marine Regiment, was grateful Mills took the time to visit the regiment.

“I appreciate it because it was motivation for everybody,” said Mantilla, 24, from Washington Heights, N.Y. “When you’ve been out here training, working hard and then see the general appreciate your work, you feel good.”

Mantilla, who was recognized by Mills for superior performance during the exercise with a hand shake and challenge coin, also said he feels more confident about the upcoming deployment after hearing Mills’ re-affirm his support for 7th Marines.

“I really want to go [to Afghanistan], and now with his words it helped me feel better, and trust the Marines to my right and to my left.”