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Lance Cpl. Spencer A. Johnson, 20, a data network system technician with Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 5, who is from Jacksonville, N.C., looks through binoculars as he stands watch at Combat Outpost Timberwolf, Iraq, May 10. Marines and sailors with Headquarters Co. make up the provisional rifle platoon at COP Timberwolf. The PRP routinely patrols with the Iraqi Police and aids the local community with supplies and medical attention.

Photo by Cpl. Shawn Coolman

Headquarters Company Marines get a taste of ‘grunt’ life

14 May 2008 | Cpl. Shawn Coolman

Although desolate and reclusive, Combat Outpost Timberwolf is full of capable non-infantry Marines and sailors diligently carrying out their mission.

Marines and sailors with Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 5, who make up the provisional rifle platoon here, underwent additional infantry training and were sent here approximately two months ago.  

“We went through a six day course in Al Asad, Iraq, to learn how to do convoys, escalation-of-force procedures and practical application of running an entry control point,” said Cpl. Neal A. Black, 21, a navigator in the PRP from Castroville, Texas.

Third Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, was here conducting operations prior to the PRP taking command.

“Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, needed replacements to take over so we were sent,” said Black, who is a consolidated memorandum receipt clerk with Headquarters Co. “They ran the posts, did patrols and quick react force.  We’re here doing the same work they did.” 

 “We were also sent here to provide security for the bridge that is being built because every Marine is a rifleman, and they should be able to do this job,” said Cpl. Daryl T. Mullins, 21, a fire team leader with the PRP. “We’re helping out 3rd Bn., 4th Marines so they can focus more on mission-oriented operations.”

A few of their other duties include joint patrols with the local Iraqi Police and security watch over the COP, which brings them in contact with the local community near Baghdadi, Iraq.

“The Iraqis really like us out here, and we do a lot of humanitarian efforts,” said Black. “Our corpsman goes and checks on the (locals) and treats their ailments.”

Through their training and application of the training, the Marines here have proven that any Marine can be taken from their military occupational specialty and be put in a different role.  

“You can put Marines with different MOSs together, give them a mission and they can successfully carry out the mission,” said Lance Cpl. Rodolfo Ceja, 22, a supply warehouse clerk with Headquarters Co., who is from Chicago.  

“Another good thing is that we have the opportunity to work with other services,” added Ceja, who is a vehicle turret gunner for the PRP. “We have been working with the Navy and the Army to build the bridge and keep the site secure.”

The new duties which these Marines perform away from their normal MOS’s are showing them a different side of the Marine Corps that they may not have experienced otherwise.

“I love it; I enjoy going on patrols and interacting with the locals,” said Black. “I’m out here doing the job of a basic rifleman.”

“It gets me out of my normal routine of my job,” said Mullins, who is from Lebanon, Mo. “This is what I expected out of the Marine Corps, more or less a (rifleman’s) job.”