After completing our cool down period in Kuwait, we loaded back up on the USS Juneau and made our way home. We made a 3 day stop in Thailand for a vacation, and then continued on our payback to Okinawa. After arriving there, we spent another month, roughly, getting everything ready for heading back home to Hawaii. Then in May of 2005, we returned to Hawaii.
During this deployment, I learned a great deal about myself as a man, about what it was to be a Marine Infantryman, and what this war was all about. I did not hold a position of leadership or management during this deployment, however, as the Platoon Radio Transmission Operator, I was in a unique position. I worked closely with my Platoon Commander, and was a key component for command and control of operations. My skills in communication had improved dramatically. I had gained confidence as a young Marine, now a “senior” Lance Corporal returning back home from combat. I was eager to get home not just for the sake of going home on leave and to enjoy what it is to be free, but to become a Fire Team Leader, that first step in leadership within an infantry Platoon.
Some of the skills I gained a great deal of experience in while on this deployment include:
- Communication and Coordination skills
- Understanding of Supplies and Logistics for operations
- Planning and Controlling operations
- Coordinating operations with multiple units/departments
- Working directly with leadership in the conduct of operations
Beyond these skills that transfer over to civilian life, I learned what it is to be a good follower. If you are to become a good leader, this is the ever important first step. How can you lead if you do not know what it is to follow? You can not expect discipline, integrity, and dependability out of the personnel under your charge if you do not portray those same character traits yourself. Everyone has someone they follow. Being a Leader does not mean you are “the” leader. There will always be someone you answer to. As a leader, you must show that you are humble, and recognize this point, so that you can set the example in following your superiors for your juniors to emulate with you as their leader.