CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan --
In America, all branches of the military are voluntary, and for those who choose to join, a certain level of respect is earned. There are some who believe that the highest honor comes from serving one’s country.
Lance Cpl. Ron Loehrke, a motor transport operator with Motor Transport Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), enlisted in 2010 with that belief.
As a child, Loehrke was taught to embody many of the values that the Marine Corps teaches – honor, courage, commitment, and respect.
“My grandfather was the one who first taught me about respect,” said Loehrke.
Loehrke’s grandfather served in the Marine Corps and was a drill instructor during World War II. The bond Loehrke shared with his grandfather helped shape who he wanted to become.
“We were very close,” said Loehrke, 21, a native of Toledo, Ohio. “When he passed away I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye, and that has always stayed with me.”
Although he always knew he would enlist, Loehrke chose a branch in memory of his grandfather.
“I joined the military for myself, but I joined the Marine Corps for my grandpa,” he said.
Now halfway into his enlistment, Loehrke is wrapping up his first deployment. He has spent the last seven months supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
“My main priority during this deployment has been to help out Marines,” said Loehrke. “Get them their chow; get them their water, and help keep morale high. Now that it’s time to go home, I feel like I’ve earned it.”
As a motor transport operator, Loehrke is trained to drive nearly every type of tactical vehicle, from 7-ton trucks to mine-resistant ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles. He has driven hundreds of miles, from the town of Sangin in northern Helmand Province to the Pakistan border and has participated in numerous missions providing supplies to multiple patrol bases.
During his deployment, Loehrke also had the opportunity to work with the Base Defense Operations Command. As a camp guard, Loehrke spent time with members of the Afghan National Security Force.
“I got to work with the [Afghan National Army] a lot,” said Loehrke. “I learned some of their language and a lot about their culture.”
With two years left on his military contract, Loehrke already has plans for his future. He is one of the more skilled drivers in his company and hopes to continue a career in commercial driving.
“When I get out I want to go back to working for FedEx,” he said. “I enjoy driving because I like it, but also because I’m really good at it.”
As CLB-1 prepares to turn over responsibilities to another unit and return home, Loehrke said he is grateful to have spent time in Afghanistan.
“Coming out here and seeing how combat operations actually work has been one of the best experiences,” he said.