Arabic-speaking Marine chosen as Linguist of the Year

18 Nov 2003 | Lance Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre

In waging the War on Terror, Arab linguists are a hot commodity for America and her allies.  On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, where many civilians and combatants speak Arabic, linguists are needed more than ever.

One Woolwich, Maine, native, was recently recognized for his linguistic skills and contributions during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and is currently assigned to 2nd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force here.

"I never thought I would have been doing what I've done," said Sgt. Chad E. Lindsey.  The Chop Point School graduate now looks back on his career as a seasoned combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Lindsey's awards include recognition as the Marine Corps Linguist of the Year and as runner-up Linguist of the Year for the Department of Defense.  Additionally, Lindsey was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his "operational and academic performance" during training exercises in Egypt and anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan by the commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force during a ceremony here Nov. 7. 

Second Radio Battalion's mission is to harness the skills of linguists like Lindsey and other Marines in relation to the various forms of available communications.  Additionally, they support "special intelligence communications" for the Marine air-ground combat team.

In Afghanistan and in missions in Egypt and Iraq, Lindsey was a "signals intelligence, electronic warfare operator" inside a specialized light armored vehicle known as a Mobile Electronic Warfare Support System. Because of Lindsey's Arabic language skills, he was continually needed for his special language skill.

"I was assigned as the primary translator for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit commander during Exercise Bright Star in Egypt," Lindsey said of his liaison between U.S. Marine Corps and Egyptian forces conducting joint training. 

Lindsey's versatility and use was also evident in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

"Being attached to the first 'on the ground' intelligence unit in Afghanistan, I was called to aid in the interrogation of Arabic-speaking detainees at the Afghan city of Kandahar," he said of his exploits there.

Practically hopping from operation to operation Lindsey had similar experiences in Iraq. 

"In Iraq, Sergeant Lindsey was tasked with numerous jobs including translating and interpreting between his commanders and our enemy prisoners, to providing humanitarian relief to Iraqi civilians," said Staff Sgt. Jason K. Kendall, who has served alongside Lindsey for nearly two years as his supervisor here and in Iraq.

"Lindsey translated for our doctors giving aid to Iraqi civilians and even interpreted for a group of civilians trying to cross the battle line to conduct a proper Muslim burial," said Kendall. 

"His expertise and willingness to volunteer even after little sleep or rest showed his professionalism to the continued tasks we faced in Iraq," he said. 

Cool and collective, yet methodical in his approach to tasks, Lindsey also reflected upon the simpler interactions with his surroundings during his time overseas.  He recollected the extreme climates he faced and the reactions of people who lived in those surroundings.

"In Afghanistan, I remember fighting off the insects, plus the goodwill of the locals," said Lindsey.

It was a sentiment he echoed of his time in Iraq and Egypt. 

"In Iraq and while training in Egypt, I was truly surprised how well we were received by the local populations," he said.  Lindsey's view was in contrast to the negative perceptions commonly portrayed in the regional media of Americans in that part of the world. 

"In fact, the Iraqis we encountered during Operation Iraqi Freedom seemed very appreciative to us for liberating them from Saddam Hussein," he said.

In his more than four years of service, the Marine Corps has provided Lindsey the opportunity to travel to many countries while serving his country.  While not ruling out continued military service, Lindsey future plans include attending college and pursuing a career in federal law enforcement.