FALLUJAH, Iraq --
Most Marines agree taking care of the man on your left and right is the number one concern in combat.
Marriage and fatherhood, however, can often affect a Marine’s way of thinking and Cpl. David Thomason is learning why.
Thomason, a 23-year-old company clerk from Rochester, Minn., with Headquarters and Support Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, has participated in one deployment to Afghanistan with his unit, and is now on his second Iraq deployment with them.
Throughout his first two deployments, Thomason served with his unit as a rifleman and as an M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon gunner. His only concern, he said, was his fellow Marines around him.
“I remember humping up a mountain in Afghanistan on a cool day,” recalled Thomason. “I remember thinking how nice a day it was before we started, but once we got up there, it wasn’t nice. It was cold. After unloading my 150-pound pack, I was drenched in sweat. It just starts freezing to your body. Guys were going numb. The cold was the least of our worries though, we were taking fire everyday, but I loved it.”
Thomason said during his first two deployments he had an almost “careless” approach to danger, thinking only of mission accomplishment when in a life threatening situation.
“Afghanistan was very dangerous,” said Sgt. Jon Owens, a section leader with JUMP platoon, H&S Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, RCT-1. “We’d take incoming fire every day, get ambushed and mortared—it was serious. Thomason was motivated, though. It was our first deployment, we were all eager (to fight) and being family men was the farthest thing from our minds.”
After Thomason returned from his second deployment things changed for him. He met and married his wife Nicole, and together they parented a son Samuel.
Now about two months into his second Iraq deployment, Thomason said he still has an obligation to the Marines around him, but he also has a wife and newborn son to consider.
“I have a family now,” he said. “I can’t act like a cowboy anymore. I need to be safe so my wife has a husband, and my son has a father when we go home.”
Thomason’s role with his unit has also changed during his current deployment. As a company clerk, he maintains the company’s personnel and equipment accountability and helps to facilitate the company’s daily tasks.
“This is my first deployment as a company clerk,” he said. As a ‘grunt,’ you have a set schedule, or you know when you’re going out and when you have time to rest. Now, with the company needing to be accounted for and Marines to be taken care of, I work whenever needed.”
Being a husband and father has changed Thomason’s perspective on life in and out of the Marine Corps.
“Thinking back to when I was freezing on some mountain in Afghanistan and getting shot at and ambushed every day; time has gone by quickly,” said Thomason. “This deployment is going by quickly. I call my wife and son every so often to see how they’re doing and it makes things easier and gives me something to look forward to. It’s what dads do.”