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Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, move to assist during a raid as part of a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 19, 2014. The MCCRE is a week long exercise that tests Marines' combat readiness through a variety of scenarios. Raids, gas drills and casualty evacuations are among the tests used to evaluate the Marines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David Silvano/released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. David Silvano

Ohio Marine Participates in Combat Readiness Evaluation with Dark Horse

3 Apr 2014 | Lance Cpl. David Silvano

A Marine used to providing security for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps can find it difficult to make the transition to providing security in the field. This was not the case for Lance Cpl. Brandon Bender, a rifleman with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. He took part in a Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation or MCCRE, here, March 17 to March 22, 2014.

Although comfortable in the field, he hasn't always done his current job. It wasn't long ago that he made the transition from the concrete jungle of our nation's capital, to the field environment aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Bender, a native of Ashland, Ohio, served his first billet as part of a Marine Corps security force guard, assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington D.C. Part of his job was to guard the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He even held security for the President when he was there. After about a year in Washington, D.C., Bender's command allowed him to return to his original job in the infantry due to personal issues. His orders sent him to 2nd Bn., 4th Marines.

It was a big adjustment going from standing post all day and ensuring his uniform was perfect, to being out in the field conducting exercises like the MCCRE. Regardless of the difficulty, Bender loves his job.

"Coming out here with the grunts to get some is what I joined for," Bender said. 

Bender's participation in the MCCRE, was essential training to help save the lives of Marines on deployment by ensuring they are proficient at their jobs.

"The MCCRE is an opportunity for the division and the regiment to evaluate a battalion before it deploys and ensure it's ready to do its basic missions," said Lt. Col. Robert Rice, the commanding officer for 3rd Bn., 5th Marines.

During the evaluation, the battalion is tasked with missions such as helicopter assaults, amphibious operations, raids and missions involving the use of mission-oriented protective posture, or MOPP gear.

"The MCCRE is an opportunity for us to simulate the sort of real world missions we could get as we prepare for deployment," Rice said. "These missions help remind Marines of the many things they are required to know."

Bender's unit was in a defensive position for several days and was to hold off an offensive force that was advancing on their position in the trenches of Camp Pendleton.

His unit was able to practice defensive strategies that tie directly into a potential situation in a deployed environment.

"We're ready for them," Bender said. "We're going to have no problem stopping them."

Bender didn't realize initially that security forces was different than being a rifleman in an infantry platoon. Working in the infantry is what Bender wanted to do from the beginning.

"I enjoyed my time in security forces, but I really wanted to be out here," Bender said.

Whether he's wearing his dress blue uniform in the streets of Washington, D.C., or in camouflage utilities in the field of Camp Pendleton, Bender understands his mission and knows what it takes to accomplish it in order to help get his fellow Marines home.