RAWAH, Iraq --
For most of the Marines of Provisional Rifle Platoon 3, Regimental Combat Team 5, common infantry training is an uncommon virtue.
The majority of Marines with PRP-3 are trained as members of combat support military occupational specialties, which means they provide necessary assistance to support the ground combat element. However, the platoon is currently conducting an infantry mission here by providing security of the roadways and bridge into Rawah.
Those without formal infantry training from the School of Infantry, though, have the help they need just an arm's length away. More than a dozen infantry Marines from battalions with 5th Marine Regiment volunteered to be a part of PRP-3, and their experience and knowledge is enhancing PRP-3’s mission capability.
"We come from two totally different worlds, but shared hardships build strong bonds," said Cpl. Drew March, 24, a fire team leader with PRP-3 from Speedway, Ind. "If (the infantry Marines with PRP-3) see something messed up, we let (everyone) know. Our job out here is to teach and to lead."
All of the infantry Marines with PRP-3 volunteered to return to Iraq -- most within three months after returning from a seven-month deployment with 3rd Bn, 5th Marines, though some are from 2nd Bn., 5th Marines -- to serve as members of Grizzly Mobile, RCT-5's mobile security element. When they arrived at RCT-5’s headquarters at Camp Ripper, which is aboard Al Asad Air Base in western al-Anbar province, they were reassigned to PRP-3 to serve as members of the platoon and as mentors to the support-element Marines.
"On my first deployment, I learned more while deployed than any training," said March, who, like many of the infantry Marines with PRP-3, is on his third tour in Iraq. "I've actually been impressed by a lot of (the non-infantry Marines). They're picking up on the basics pretty quickly."
Like many of the other infantry Marines, March was assigned as a fire team leader, and he quickly made it his business to learn about his team members. It's this attention to the Marines around them, helping making them better, that has given PRP-3 more tools to be successful.
"(The infantry Marines) are the ones who are the experts, the ones with all the experience, so I turn to them a lot of times," said Sgt. Dante R. Sevieri, 24, a squad leader with PRP-3 and data technician with RCT-5 from Castro Valley, Calif. "Everybody helps each other out to make our squad better."
The non-infantry Marines are taking their orders seriously, and the infantry Marines have noticed the motivation of all the Marines is running high throughout the platoon
"I selected Cpl. (Levi) Bjorkman, an (administration clerk), as my point man because he has shown a lot of common sense abilities," said Cpl. Jordan M. Moehnle, 22, a fire team leader with PRP-3 from Sunland, Calif.
The infantry Marines with PRP-3 have seen the country when the situation was more active, with frequent attacks from insurgents and foreign fighters from terrorist networks causing a dangerous situation for Coalition forces and peaceful Iraqi citizens. Though the low number of combat contacts this year is a sign of significant strides toward stability, the combat-experienced Marines have not let down their guard.
"My first deployment (in 2006, with Lima Company, 3rd Bn., 5th Marines) was pretty tense," said Moehnle, who also served as a squad leader on his second deployment after attending infantry squad leaders course. "The situation in Fallujah was better than in the past and on the way to improvement, but it was still pretty wild. By the second deployment, (from Sept. 2007 to Apr. 2008), it was significantly better."
"I'm happy we're not getting shot at," March said. "I don't want any stars or crosses (combat awards). If nothing is happening, then no one dies. It's good seeing the progress here and being able to say 'hey, that's partly (because of) us.’"