3/14/2013 -- CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – “Would I be able to face myself the next day?” This thought coursed through the young Marine’s mind as he underwent yet another exhausting challenge, pushing his body to its limit.
The year was 1991, an infantryman, who had just returned from the Persian Gulf War, was one of a handful of Marines competing for a spot in a Scout Sniper Platoon.
“While going through indoctrination you need to remember your pride,” recalled the Marine. “Pride in yourself and in those around you. Pride to know that you are not going to quit and you’re not going to take the easy way out.”
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gary L. Reed, who recently deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Marine Logistics Group and Combat Logistics Group 15 as the senior watch officer, was only a corporal when he passed the indoctrination and earned the scout insignia.
Several years were spent with a Scout Sniper Platoon, in which Reed took on several instructor positions and participated in several mountain warfare and cold weather training missions.
“We were a tight knit group because everybody knew that to get to the platoon meant that you had proven yourself,” said Reed, a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear defense officer currently with 1st Marine Logistics Group. “The biggest difference was that you knew each person woke up wanting to be there.”
In 1999 Reed went to the Scout Sniper School and joined the elite fighting force.
According to the an article in USA Today, The Marine Scout Sniper School is one of the most elite military sniper schools on earth and one of the toughest special operations courses in the U.S. Military.
“The school was extremely difficult,” said Reed. “There were times that I really wanted to quit, but I didn’t. I knew I wanted to be there and why.”
Reed, a 43-year-old native of Wheeling, W.Va., was with the Scout Snipers from 1991 to 2003.
“A lot of people look at the scout sniper platoon as the guys who shoot guns all the time,” said Reed. “It’s not only that; it’s being out in front of the units, providing information for the battalion commander to help him make vital decisions.”
After serving more than 15 years with the infantry, Reed started to look in another direction. He ultimately decided to become a chief warrant officer.
After he put in his request to change fields he was subsequently accepted and sent to a CBRN shop. He attended the Marine Corps CBRN School of Defense in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO and later sent to Camp Pendleton.
“It was a challenge to go from leading Marines in one job to another,” said Reed. “But I’m a tactical person by nature and the great thing about the CBRN community is that we remain within the operational areas of the Marine Corps so I was prepared.”
Since joining the Marine Corps in 1987, he has deployed nine times, including to operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom as well as to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and with the 31st MEU.
Reed recently competed in the Western Division Match aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., an annual event consisting of more than 380 Marines, retirees, and civilians competing for title of best rifle and pistol marksman.
“With the division matches everyone has the same standard weapon,” he explained. “Everyone is competing to prove they can shoot better than the individual to the left and right of them.”
This was his 6th time competing.
“I come out because I like the challenge and I love to shoot,” said Reed. “I like to challenge myself and others to be able to shoot as skillfully as they can. The goal is to improve yourself and improve others.”
Reed walked away with a bronze medal in the pistol match.
After dedicating 26 years to the Marine Corps, Reed feels retirement is nearing.
“It’s unfortunately probably around the corner,” said Reed. “I always tell my Marines and wife you gotta love what you do, and I do. I look forward to each day, but there is probably going to be a day that I will wake up and think ‘Am I going to be productive to the Marine Corps?’.”
All in all, Reed feels the Marine Corps could not have been a better fit.
“The Marine Corps has been absolutely wonderful at maturing me,” said Reed. “I love my time in it and all the friends I’ve made throughout the years, even though those numbers are withering as I stay in. Ultimately, there are so many ways to reach out to former Marines. It’s a great family and I’m glad I am a part of it.”