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Cpl. Darnell G. Liesinger, 24, from Sioux Falls, S.D., who is a civil affairs team member with Civil Affairs team 5, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, shows an Iraqi boy his multi-tool during a meeting at the Rawah, Iraq, mayorâ??s office Aug. 12. Liesinger is an individual ready reservist who has returned to active duty to serve as a civil affairs Marine. Liesinger did three previous deployments to Iraq as an infantry Marine and is now transitioning from kicking in doors to shaking hands.::r::::n::

Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Torres

From ‘grunt’ to civil affairs, Marine shows commitment

28 Aug 2008 | Lance Cpl. Paul Torres 1st Marine Division

RAWAH, Iraq  -- The phrase, “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” usually refers to the discipline, high standards and work ethic that are carried on by Marines to the civilian sector when they depart the service.

But as Cpl. Darnell G. Liesinger, 24, a civil affairs team member with Civil Affairs Team 5, Detachment 1, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, discovered, this can also mean putting a hold on civilian life and returning to service.

Liesinger, who is a veteran of three previous deployments to Iraq, is one of the many individual ready reservists who have been called back to duty.

“I was a squad automatic weapon gunner during Operation Iraqi Freedom 1,” said Liesinger, who is from Sioux Falls, S.D. “I went all over Iraq, and after doing three tours in four years, I thought I had done my job as a Marine.”

Liesinger had been out of the Marine Corps for two years and was working with a friend installing fire-safety sprinklers when he was called back to service.

“I liked being a grunt(infantry Marine), so I figured I might as well man-up and do another tour,” said Liesinger.

During this deployment, Liesinger is with CA Team 5, and he joined the team after they had already been in country for several months.

“During my (other) deployments, my mission was to kick in doors,” said Liesinger. “Now, my mission is to shake hands and help them rebuild their towns.”

Civil affairs missions usually consist of meetings with key leaders and inspecting current projects like the reconstruction of court houses and banks. While he may not be kicking many doors down, Liesinger has plenty of skills that are an asset to the team.

“He brings a lot of experience with him, and he is dedicated to doing a good job,” said Sgt. Mitchell S. Wilder, 25, from Boise, Idaho, who is a fellow IRR Marine with CA Team 5.  “I know he wants to teach his fellow Marines a few classes on patrolling and battlefield awareness.”

Some standard operating procedures have not changed since the last time Liesinger deployed to Iraq, but a few have.

“It was a culture shock when I first left the wire out here,” said Liesinger.  “I am not used to the share-the-road policy, and it’s just a total shock to walk down the street and we are not getting shot at or being attacked with IEDs (improvised explosive devices),” said Liesinger.

When Liesinger completes this deployment, he plans on again returning to the civilian sector and attending school.

1st Marine Division