Reserves provide important role

11 Apr 2003 | Sgt. Allen J. Grdovich

As the convoys of supplies continue to move north to support coalition forces, the Marine Corps Reserve is again answering the call to duty. Providing convoy security, the Saginaw, Mich.-based Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, is putting their lives on hold to do their part to defeat the Iraqi regime.

The company accepts the call as "part of being a Marine," said rifleman and Toledo, Ohio, native, Lance Cpl. Ryan Brillhart.

The part-time civilians served as teachers, business managers, students, entrepreneurs and construction workers before deploying, said scout sniper Gunnery Sgt. James Worsham. 

In February, the Corps placed the unit on active status for approximately one year.

The unit's main objective here is to provide security against loyal Saddam Hussein fighters for supply trucks heading in and out of Iraq, Worsham explained.

"Without supplies to the front lines the war can't go on. So our job is very important," the Tecumseh, Mich., native, said.

Aiding in the Corps' decision to use third country nationals to drive supply trucks forward, the Marines not only protect the convoys, but also ride with the drivers.

"Our convoys are 'armed to the teeth' so the drivers and the gear is sure to get to where it needs to go," said Worsham.

The deployment outside the United States is a first for most of the unit. For others, like 81 mm mortar man Cpl. Christopher Vargas, the trip to the desert is his second in less than a year.

While on active-duty, the 23-year-old deployed to Afghanistan only to return to active-duty February 1 after being discharged.

"Coming here is a lot easier because you sort of know what to expect; such as a high stress environment," said the Toledo, Ohio, native.

His older brother David is in the same unit. He takes the deployment as a learning experience and is on active-duty for the first time.

David explained the usual schedule for a reservist requires training drills one weekend per month. Also, during the course of the year, they deploy for two weeks for advanced training, he said.

The Marines must do this along with juggling a civilian job and for some -- family, explained Worsham.

"It is very time consuming holding a civilian job and being a Marine ... but being here makes me realize I am making a difference," said machine gunner Cpl. Kirk Ryan.

Ryan is currently part of the battalion's react squad. His Marines suppress enemy fire in the event of a convoy ambush.

Driving through villages hits a soft spot, admits the Reese, Mich., native.

"Your eyes automatically turn to the kids who are begging for water and food though you try hard to keep an eye open for the enemy," said the father of two.

"Experiencing what is going on makes us all realize how lucky we are," Ryan said.