War on Terrorism

Friday, March 23, 2012

Face of Defense: Marine Works to Keep Afghans Safe

By Marine Corps Sgt. John Jackson
1st Marine Logistics Group

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan, March 23, 2012 – For the past six months, Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Branch has provided security for Afghan truck drivers while they deliver fuel to forward operating bases here.

Branch is the assistant security team leader for 1st Marine Logistics Group’s 2nd Platoon, General Support Motor Transport Company, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.2. He is a Marine Corps reservist attached to 4th Engineer Maintenance Company in Omaha, Neb.

Back home, the Kearney, Neb., native is accustomed to arriving at work at 6 a.m. and leaving around 3 p.m. Here, he must be sure the enemy does not affect his mission or harm Afghan drivers.

Branch is a maintenance technician at a clothing distribution center in civilian life. Fixing broken equipment is his specialty, but he has become proficient in his duties here as well, he said.

“This is my third deployment,” said Branch, 29. “I love to deploy. I like to be engaged with what the Marine Corps is doing."

During his current deployment, Branch has been responsible for getting fuel and other supplies to Marines stationed throughout Helmand province.

“Our mission is to safely and expediently transport combat essential gear and fuel to the Marines and service members throughout the [area of operations],” he said. “Our platoon has completed more than a dozen missions, and we have been very successful at getting our job accomplished.”

In addition to making sure fuel and equipment is delivered safely, Branch and his Marines also interact and work with local civilians.

“There is a language barrier, but it was definitely a unique experience,” he said. “It gave us all a great insight and a great way to experience the local culture.”

With his company’s seven-month deployment nearing its end, Branch said, he is looking forward to getting back to Nebraska to be with his family, but believes his time in Afghanistan has been a worthy accomplishment.

“I am ready to get in some good quality time with my wife and daughter,” he said. “My wife is a very proud Marine Corps wife, and she is very supportive.

“This deployment has been a success. Any mission that was asked of the Marines, they got done and excelled at,” he added. “We kept our convoys safe, the local nationals safe, and got our missions completed.”

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