KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- Every Marine in the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) is expected to carry his own weight. However, there are myriad tasks that have to be performed in order to keep the MEU running smoothly. There is no specialized training, but the work must be done.
Those jobs fall on the shoulders of the Headquarters Commandant.
“We make sure the base runs properly,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathon Clark, of Greenville, S.C. “When something occurs, we’re usually on it right away.”
The Headquarters Commandant must be flexible, doing jobs you may not expect and certainly may not want.
“I’m a jack of all trades,” said Lance Corporal Blaise Cowen, a Hammonton, N.J., native and member of the Camp Commandant team.
Maintaining the Combat Operations Center and the rest of the Command Element’s supporting infrastructure keeps the team on their feet. They coordinate VIP transportation, set up concertina wire and perimeter barriers, drive passengers and cargo to and from the flight line, burning feces out of the port-o-let cans, and the list is endless.
“There has been a lot to do,” said Cpl. James Mayes, a Headquarters Commandant Marine from Seattle, Wash. “There are a lot of time-consuming jobs that have to get done. Every time there’s a kink in the COC, we have to go smooth it out and make sure there’s no residual kinks as a result.”
Sometimes the Headquarters Commandant is called upon to assist with working parties to build essential portions of the FOB. For example, Cowen helped build the helicopter-landing pad for the MEU’s medical evacuation helicopters. Each job brings it’s own set of challenges, such as the weather and terrain.
“It’s very hot,” said Cowen, “and there’s a two-foot metal rod that goes in the ground. The ground is pure rock.”
Even when not helping construct the base, taking care of the Command Element is a big job alone. With over 280 Marines in the Command Element, ensuring they have the necessities, such as water and a place to sleep can be hard to juggle, particularly when their work backgrounds are so diverse. The Marines who work in the Headquarters Commandant section come from a variety of military occupational specialties (MOS). There is no formal school for these Marines, so the fact that the team works so well is a testament to their adaptability.
“When you consider you’re take a whole lot of MOS’s, they have been all coming together,” said Master Sgt. Edward F. Agans, of Oneida, N.Y., the Command Element Headquarters Commandant. “The Marines are the ones doing all the hard work.”
In addition to its Command Element, the MEU consists of Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (Reinforced), and MEU Service Support Group 22.
For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC)'s role in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, visit the unit's web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.