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Air-defense gunners set standard for convoy security

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200558131919
Story by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

AL ASAD, Iraq (May 8, 2005) -- Practice makes perfect. The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. Train like you fight.

These sayings have rung true for the Marines of 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense
Battalion, Bravo Company as they completed three months of convoy security in the
eastern Al Anbar province safe and sound.

A unique mission for Marines formally trained as air-defense gunners — nearly
one year of training prepared the Marines to tackle the streets of Iraq.

“The months of training were long, in-depth and challenging,” said Lance Cpl.
Nick J. Nelson, humvee driver and native of Laguna Hills, Calif. “However, in this job,
repetition is key.”

“The training gave us a high level of confidence coming out here,” said Lance
Cpl. Joshua L. Hair, humvee driver and native of Columbia, S.C.

The amount and intensity of training helped the company transition into the new
mission with ease. The leadership at all levels of the company is directly responsible for
the Marines logging more than 21,000 miles and transporting more than 1,600 tractor
trailers full of supplies on 32 convoys, without incident.

“All of us, as a platoon, are extremely tight, so everything is done as a team,” said
Lance Cpl. David Davis, 7-ton truck driver and native of Hobbs, N.M. “We knew the
mission so well coming into it, and took on the challenges with a high level of
motivation. Each day we looked at how we were doing things and how we could do them
even better.”

The Marines of Bravo Co. did such an outstanding job providing convoy security,
a team of the Marines Corps finest aviation and aviation-ground support instructors from
Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, declared them the benchmark to be
emulated by all other Marine convoy escorts.

“According to MAWTS-1 we are the standard,” said Capt. Greg Burgess, B Co.
commanding officer, as he briefed the Marines before their last convoy May 7. “From
day one you Marines have been outstanding, from Pfc. up the chain of command. All of
our hard work and long months of training have paid off.”

Without Bravo Co.’s dedication, life would be very different for the Marines,
sailors, soldiers and Department of Defense employees here. Each week Bravo Co.
ensured that much needed supplies continued to roll into Al Asad.

“We’ve trucked it all,” Davis said. “Everything from generators and vehicles, to
food and merchandise for the exchange. Without the convoys, there wouldn’t even be
forks at the chow hall.”

The importance of the mission was never out of the minds of the Marines. In a
mission that can become redundant and routine, the Marines fought off complacency and
pressed ahead.

“Our attitude has been the same since the first convoy,” said 2nd Lt. Eddie
O’Connell, Bravo Co., 2nd platoon commander and native of Oak Lawn, Ill. “Every time
we roll out we are prepared, because the threat is always there. It could be around the
next turn, or under that pile of rocks.”

Done with convoys for the time being, the Marines are preparing to man the entry
control points here.

As the Marines of Bravo Co. prepare to exchange missions with 2d LAAD’s
Alpha Co., they are prepared to bring the same level of enthusiasm and motivation to
their new assignment.

“From the start, the Marines have been extremely professional,” O’Connell said.
“Every mission here is equally important, and regardless where we are or what we are
doing, these Marines will succeed.”

“[The new mission] will be a change of pace, we are ready to tackle it,” Hair said.
“We handle everything as a team, and work to accomplish the mission to the best of our
ability.”

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