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Kilo, 3/2 armed, ready to protect

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005546536
Story by Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel

CAMP AL QAIM, Iraq (May 3, 2005) -- A Marine's weapon is his most important asset in a combat zone. It protects him and his fellow service members from enemy threats. But what does a Marine do when his weapon is damaged or broken?

The Marines of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment bring it to Lance Cpl. Derek B. Wright, the company's armorer.

The Medina, Ohio, native was originally a mortar man with the infantry until his deployment to Africa.

"Out there, they didn't really need mortar man, so they moved me over to the armory, where I've been ever since," said the 2002 Highland High School graduate.

Wright, an infantryman, understands the importance of his current role in Iraq.

"My job is important because when a Marine has a broken weapon, they bring it to me. So, I basically put them back in the fight," said the 21-year-old.

This is not Wright's first deployment to a combat zone. In 2003, he supported Operation Iraqi Freedom in An Nassariah, where he helped locate, close with and destroy high level targets.

Following his first tour in Iraq, Wright deployed to the Horn of Africa in support the Global War on Terrorism, conducting humanitarian missions and operations in early 2004. And now, as Wright completes his second deployment to Iraq, he's beginning to understand his role in the bigger picture.

"I like to be out there and bring peace to the Iraqis. We are helping them be free to run their own country without all these terrorist attacks. I'm pretty confident we will take control of this area of operation and in turn, give control to Iraqi forces," he explained.

For most of Wright's career he has been deployed, and he explained that he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I'd rather be deployed than be back at Camp Lejeune (Wright's home base), because I'm out here doing my job. I like to work 16 hours a day and feel the satisfaction of being a part of this operation. That's why I joined the Marine Corps in the first place," he said.

Wright, while staring off into the Iraqi sunset, explains how the idea of joining the Corps started.

"I was in high school doing computer drafting on September 11, 2001. It was my senior year. I was on the computer hooked to the internet and it had breaking news pop-ups all the time. That day, I saw the buildings on fire from the computer and decided I could only do one thing about it," Wright paused. "I went to the recruiter's office that same day after school and talked to him. I signed up later and went to recruit training after I graduated high school."

While Wright can still remember why he decided to serve his country, everyday he wakes up in a combat zone he realizes, though there are risks, the rewards are so much greater.

"You're getting shot at everyday, there's a risk of improvised explosive devices and it's very unsettling. However, you know that you're doing what you came here to do and that people back home support you everyday," he explained.

For Wright, being deployed to Iraq as the company's armorer gives him a level of confidence and self-awareness that he might not have otherwise.

"I am trusted with over five million dollars worth of equipment. I realize what I do is important to the mission, because if a Marine doesn't have a working weapon then he might be as good as dead out here," he continued. "Being here makes me sure of who I am, and I can conquer any obstacle thrown my way from now on."

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