AL ASAD, Iraq -- Sgt. Kristine A. Streng's training once took her marching across a parade field, clarinet in hand, and sometimes in a downtown parade through the streets of a small town in coastal Carolina. Not anymore.
These days she doesn't see her clarinet much. She hasn't marched to the beat of a Marine Corps drum for almost two months now. These days she holds a semi-automatic rifle instead of a woodwind.
The Powhatan, Va. native is currently serving as sergeant of the guard for the tactical command center security platoon here. On a day-to-day basis, she is a key ingredient to the safety and security of the commanding general and his staff, who direct air support for the security and stability of Iraq.
"I have been looking forward to this ever since I joined," said the 1995 Powhatan High School graduate. "I've always known that Marine Corps bands provided security in times of war, so as soon as I found out the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing was going, I was in my boss's office begging to be part of the deployment."
Streng got her chance in mid-February, when the aircraft wing arrived in Iraq. No longer playing the tunes of the Corps, she, and the security platoon, immediately assumed the essential duty.
"By providing adequate security, the Marines who plan the tactical side of operations can perform their jobs without being distracted with concern for their own welfare," she said.
In addition to standing her share of watch duty at the various posts that surround the command compound, Streng monitors watch schedules, coordinates escorts for third-country nationals and civilian contractors and ensuring her Marines have what they need to do their vital job.
"Sgt. Streng is a great Marine and it's a pleasure working for her," said Cpl. Colin M. Martin. "She is focused on mission accomplishment and always looks out for us."
Prior to the deployment, the Marines of the 2nd MAW band traded a training schedule of musical scales and marching patterns for a regiment chalk full of weapons familiarization, tactics and techniques, and combat related classes. They are now referred to as the security platoon.
"We have always been a very close knit unit," she said. "Throughout the whole work up process, we focused teamwork as we sharpened our other skills."
Before her days in the wing band, Streng attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where she graduated with a degree in music in 2001. After hearing about the Marine Corps' music program, she decided to join and left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., in May 2001.
"Joining allowed me the chance to continue doing what I love," she said. "At the same time, however, it also gave me a chance to serve my country."
Like thousands of other service members deployed around the world, Streng had to leave her family behind as she answered the call of duty. She said that although it's hard to be away, her husband understands the importance of her service.
Before long she and the Marines of the security platoon will hear the familiar sounds of a welcome-home band filling their ears as the step off the bus to a warm reception of friends and loved ones. Until then, however, Streng and her Marines will continue to do their part, supporting security and stability operations in the region.