Saturday, November 29, 2008

Youngest Batalion Celebrates B-day from afar

Story by: Lance Cpl. Ronald W. Stauffer

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Through the dust and roar of jet engines, Combat Logistics Battalion-3, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Afghanistan, upheld the tradition of celebrating the Marine Corps birthday at Kandahar Air Field, while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom Nov. 10.

The current unit, which recently transitioned from Combat Service Support Group-3 to CLB-3, stood in formation amongst the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, its aviation combat element and the headquarters element for SPMAGTF-A.

It was a special day for CLB-3, the Corps newest battalion, as one of its own was recognized as the youngest Marine in formation.

Filling the shoes of the youngest Marine, Lance Cpl. Francisco J. Martinez, 19, a sweep team member with Motor Transportation Company, took his place in the ceremony.

“When I found out, I was happy knowing that I would be one of the few given the opportunity, Martinez said. “I was in boot camp for my first ball and got to experience the cake cutting ceremony, but I never thought I would be the one receiving the cake as the youngest Marine.”

Growing up in a rough neighborhood in Southern California and watching his peers join gangs or start families at too young an age, he took it upon himself to make a life-changing decision.

“My step-dad inspired me because he wanted something better for me and knew college wasn’t for me,” Martinez said. “He thought the Marine Corps would be better, and I agreed. I didn’t want to be like everybody else I grew up with.”

With the support of his parents, Martinez became the first in his family to join the military, entering boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif., Oct.14, 2007.

“Even with the war going on, I knew what I was getting into when I joined,” Martinez said. “I knew Marines were the best, and I wanted to be part of a bigger picture.”

After boot camp and formal MOS training, Martinez joined the newly formed CLB-3, where he’s making his mark in history with the Marines and sailors of CLB-3.

“Logistics have become more important than ever, and [the Marine Corps] has set up logistics into groups now,” said Sgt. Maj. Danny D. Duvall, CLB-3 sergeant major. “It was a challenge because CSSG-3 was a supporting unit on base and not deploying.”

The new Combat Logistics Battalion-3 was designated June 27, and within 100 days, the unit received deployment orders to Afghanistan.

“We were literally given six to eight weeks and ran 24-hour training,” Duvall said. “I personally believe our efforts were incorporated through noncommissioned officer development.”

Through a leadership program developed by Duvall, based upon young NCOs, his Marines are carrying the unit through the rigorous package to get ready for deployment.

“Our NCOs are carrying this unit and are some of the best I’ve served with,” Duvall said. “They are empowered that way because I have seasoned staff NCOs who know the value of NCOs running the show.”

He said the unit’s motto is “O Ka Hana, ‘A’ole Ka ‘Olelo,” Hawaiian for “actions, not words.”

Duvall said Afghanistan isn’t Iraq and considering how quick this deployment came, there was no time for words, only actions and the actions of leaders at every level.

“My Marines are as committed today as the first Marines were in our Corps’ first amphibious assault at New Providence Island in the Bahamas.”
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