Monday, January 23, 2012

Face of Defense: Detroit Native Draws on Experience

By Marine Corps Cpl. Meredith Brown
2nd Marine Logistics Group

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Jan. 23, 2012 – Nicholas Marchioni enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2000 as an infantryman. Like many others, he completed his four-year contract and headed back home to start a new chapter in his life.

But just a few short months after he returned to his hometown of Detroit, Marchioni once again was called to serve.

“I was recalled, so I just re-enlisted and became an engineer,” he explained.

Now, seven years later, Marchioni is a Marine Corps sergeant on his sixth deployment. He in Afghanistan for the second time, serving as a squad leader for the 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion.

Second platoon operates as the security platoon for 9th ESB, tasked with conducting route and site reconnaissance missions in addition to providing security for other combat engineers on the ground.

“Because our job is [so wide-ranging], you become the jack of all trades, master of none,” Marchioni said with a laugh. “It seems like most of the time, I go back to my roots and teach people about machine guns and rifles and a lot of other things, because I learned how to be an [infantryman] first.”

Spending time with his Marines and passing on his knowledge and life experiences is something the 30-year-old noncommissioned officer often does, even after the work for the day is complete.

Before the unit deployed to Afghanistan, Marchioni organized barbecues for the company every weekend outside of their barracks in Okinawa. “It’s how I live,” he said. “Second platoon is my close-knit family, and first squad is like my kids.”

The special bond Marchioni shares with each of his Marines is evident from the moment you see them interacting.

“Most of [the Marines] have seen me go through some rough times, but I always seem to be having a good time,” he said. “It’s being able to get through all the craziness of normal life and still put a smile on your face, go to work and get done what you have to get done. Always keep driving forward.”

For Marchioni, being there for his Marines and believing in them when they need him is key to being a successful leader.

“A lot of Marines know I’ll do whatever I can for them and believe in them. If they are going to fail, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I just want them to put forth whatever they can, give them the benefit of the doubt as much as I can. A lot of times, doubt is the only thing keeping the Marine from doing it. I mean we all got here somehow, trying to be the best.”

His understanding and patience don’t go unnoticed. Many of the Marines in the platoon look up to Marchioni as a leader.

“He is more like a father figure,” said Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andrew Nelson, a gunner and squad member. “With the kind of personality he has, before he chews you out, he’ll talk to you about what you did wrong, instead of making you feel stupid. It’s just the way he is, and it just works.”

Marchioni said he plans to get out of the Marine Corps and move back to Michigan to spend time with his 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son when his current four-year contract expires.

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