News

'Army of one' teams up with 'the few and the proud'

27 Feb 2003 | Sgt. David Christian

A 10-foot-tall sand berm divides the two military services, but small groups of soldiers trickle back and forth around the temporary wall of sand.

The Army and Marine Corps recently became neighbors and joined forces at Camp Iwo Jima in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The separate branches of service are working together to provide a strategic, military force, safe, clean, compound and hot, nutritious meals.

The Army plans to provide added air-defense coverage, such as anti-scud missiles, and help transport Marine supplies throughout the operation.

"We're making sure they have everything they need, so if we get the call we're ready," said Army Sgt. Todd McJunkin, a New York City native, and a logistics specialist with 555th Maintenance Company, 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 18th Airborne Corps.

Soldiers help the Marines maintain large water bladders and soap dispensers for personal hygiene. They also assist with keeping portable bathrooms sanitary and serviceable.

Soldiers can be seen standing online with Marines behind messhall counters serving hot meals for all the troops at breakfast and dinner.

When they first arrived the Marines treated the Army with courtesy and respect, a sign of the teamwork to follow.

"Ever since we got here, the Marines have been extremely helpful," said Army 1st Lt. Jason Pertoso, executive officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2-43 Air Defense Artillery Battalion. "We arrived on very short notice. The Marines extended their warm welcome and integrated us into this camp. We feel at home."

Marines and soldiers are working closely together with the same goal in mind: to carry out whatever orders their commander-in-chief may issue.

Sgt. Timothy Wilson, messhall manager with 1st Force Service Support Group and native of Yukon, Okla., said a lot of the things he likes about soldiers are the same things he likes about Marines - "... their willingness to work and get the job done."

Pertoso said when he arrived at the site he saw the Marines working hard. "I see them not wasting any moment," he said. "They're constantly training, 24/7."

McJunkin added a similar sentiment about his neighbors, "they stay really focused and make sure the mission gets accomplished in a timely manner."

The Army and Marine Corps plan to continue to work together and prepare coalition forces for whatever operations they may be called to carry out in the Middle East.
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