CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan— Radio operators may sound like they are speaking a completely different language, often using the phonetic alphabet to speak entire sentences.
The strange phrases like ‘roger tango’ and ‘belay my last,’ however, help Marine units communicate without wasting time or creating confusion.
For one Marine, this communication has led to experiences with Regimental Combat Team 7 on a deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Corporal Brent Graham, a field radio operator, has family history in the military and Marine Corps, but it might be his love for the outdoors that influenced his decision to join the Marines.
“It’s not exactly like camping when we go to the field,” Graham said. “But I definitely enjoy being able to get outside.”
Graham aspires to earn his degree in wildlife preservation because of his love for everything outdoors, a trait passed down from his father.
“When I was a kid, my dad always took me hunting and fishing,” Graham said. “His love for it impacted me a lot and now I love it.”
Graham has some living to do in the Marine Corps first.
“Graham just pinned on corporal, so he's exploring his boundaries as a non-commissioned officer,” said Staff Sgt. Cedric Swan, the radio chief with RCT-7. “Once he adjusts, he'll become an outstanding leader of young Marines. Cpl. Graham is an extremely hard worker. That's why he was selected to go on RCT-7's last mission,” said Swan, a 30-year-old native of Hazlehurst, Miss. “And once there, Graham rose to the challenge and represented himself and 7th Marines in an exceptional manner in the midst of eminent danger.”
Graham provided communication between RCT-7 and several supporting units to include 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion and the RCT’s Mobile Assault Platoon. Talking on the radio may not be difficult, but the circumstances were.
Before the mission began, Marines knew the area was populated by insurgents and the roads plagued with improvised explosive devices. The Marines met this resistance with 1,750 pounds of C-4, called an M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge, High Mobility Rocket Artillery System rounds, and light infantry tactics.
During the operation, Graham was responsible for the maintenance of the communication equipment.
“It’s intense. Everyone is counting on you to do your job and to keep communications going,” Graham said.
This deployment is about more than just the operation for Graham, who works in the combat operations center daily. He is also gaining experience he has never had.
“This regiment has been great,” Graham said. “I have had a chance to see so much about how units work. I have worked with both air and ground (units), and have really learned a lot.”
Graham spends his extra time researching military history and reading books from the commandant’s reading list, Swan said. He’s constantly trying to improve and asking questions to further his job proficiency.
Graham may not have a hunting or fishing trip planned for after the deployment, but he said he would love to go when he gets home. For now, he’s focused on becoming a better radio operator and working on his college degree. Swan says that no matter what Graham chooses to do in the future, he will be successful at it.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series wherein every week we recognize an individual Marine or sailor with Regimental Combat Team 7. The Marines and sailors of RCT-7 are dedicated, disciplined and driven to accomplish the mission, and the Marine in this article has earned special recognition for standing out among these professionals. Be sure to check every week to see who will be honored as the latest Marine of the Week.