CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan --
Every service member deployed to Afghanistan has a story to tell. Cpl. Matthew J. Kirby is one of few who cannot stop grinning long enough to tell his.
Despite the hardships faced while deployed to a combat zone, Kirby always has a smile on his face and is usually laughing about something.
Since he was five years old, Kirby dreamed of joining the armed forces.
“As a kid growing up, my dad always told me stories of his time served in Vietnam,” said Kirby, 24, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz. “I knew I wanted to be the best of the best, so I joined the Marine Corps.”
For the last five months, Kirby has served as a gunner for Motor Transport Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1 during tactical logistics support convoys in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
“Part of the reason I joined during a time of war was to deploy to a combat zone,” said Kirby. “I wanted to get different experiences most people don’t have.”
He has been given new job opportunities that some Marines do not get a chance to experience. Kirby’s primary military occupational specialty is a crew chief for amphibious assault vehicles. However, instead of storming beaches, Kirby is now attached to a security team for CLB-1. As the gunner of his vehicle, his main job is to provide security during missions.
“Kirby takes his work seriously,” said Cpl. Evan McLellan, one of Kirby’s friends and co-workers. “He has high expectations for his junior Marines, and whatever task he’s in charge of gets done.”
Kirby sets the bar high for his Marines, but he is also willing to sacrifice his time to help them when they need it.
“There was a time when we were in [pre-deployment training], and I was really, really sick,” said McLellan. “I was supposed to stand post that night, but Kirby took my watch so I could sleep.”
Though Kirby takes his work seriously, he is well known for his optimistic and cheery demeanor.
“When the morale is down, Kirby is a goofball and can put a smile on anyone’s face,” said McLellan.
Kirby has kept a positive attitude throughout the deployment. He says while he is glad to have had the opportunity to come to Afghanistan, he is also looking forward to going home.
“I miss being able to sleep in and in a bed,” Kirby joked. “I’m looking forward to going out with my friends and seeing my family again.”
With only a month left in this deployment, Kirby has a lot to smile about.