Photo Information

AL ASAD, Iraq ? Corporal Joshua Nalley, an Immediate Reaction Team machine gunner takes a part his machine gun during a routine inspection of his gear. Nalley, recently the recipient of a combat meritorious promotion, is an Easley, S.C., and joined the Marine Corps shortly after graduating high school in 2003.

Photo by Cpl. C. Alex Herron

Palmetto state native hits bulls-eye, takes combat promotion

9 Jun 2005 | Cpl. C. Alex Herron

Every mission in the Marine Corps takes a team effort. Explosive Ordnance Disposal is one of those jobs that requires many different parts coming together to accomplish the mission.

When the disposal unit receives a call for an improvised explosive device or unidentified ordnance outside the base, they are deployed with the Immediate Reaction Team from Marine Wing Support Squadron 271.

The IRT is a group of Marines pulled from their regular military occupational specialties to form a team as machine gunners, riflemen and drivers. In a group of outstanding Marines, one Marine stood above the rest recently and was the recipient of a combat meritorious promotion.

Cpl. Joshua Nalley, a machine gunner was promoted to his present rank for his knowledge of the Marine Corps and leadership potential during the combat meritorious promotion board.

Nalley, 19, one of the youngest Marines with the IRT, has shown he is a natural leader always striving for more knowledge and experience.

“Nalley has a thirst for more leadership responsibility unlike many Marines his age,” said Gunnery Sgt. Demetrious Hadley, platoon sergeant. “He could have had another job on the team, but he wanted the extra responsibility of a machine gunner. He is constantly talking to the Marines who attended the machine gunner school to learn more and gain as much knowledge as possible. He wants to be the best at everything he does.”    

With his promotion Nalley may have earned a rank, but he already had the respect of his superiors for being a solid asset to the team.

“He is a good Marine. Before he was promoted he acted like a noncommissioned officer,” said Sgt. Ryan Thomas, IRT platoon sergeant. “Now it is good to see he is able to be rewarded for being such a well-rounded Marine.”

Nalley, a 2003 graduate of Easley High School in his native Easley, S.C., joined the Marine Corps in July 2003 when he reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S. C. After graduation and a few months of job training he reported to MWSS-271 in January 2004 as a combat engineer and quickly got a taste of Marine Corps life.

Two weeks after reporting to Cherry Point, N. C., Nalley deployed to Barbados for five months as one of 45 Marines sent to build hangars for the Barbados Defense Force.

“We worked a lot, but I was able to learn a lot about my job with a lot of hands on training,” Nalley said. “It was a good experience and a sharp contrast to where we are now. We were in a jungle paradise and now we are in a desert plain.”

After returning from Barbados, Nalley was selected to join the Immediate Reaction Team and quickly adapted to his new role within the unit. Moving from combat engineer to machine gunner is a drastic change.

“Everything we did we had to do it right and learn it correctly because we were preparing for a real world operation and we knew it,” Nalley said. “The explosive ordnance Marines’ lives are in our hands. They have to know we are proficient enough to protect them so they can concentrate on their mission.”

The team’s main mission is to provide security for Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines.

“When we get a call our mission is to secure the area while disposal team works to disarm an Improvised Explosive Device,” said Nalley.

Nalley is enjoying his time with the IRT in Iraq. Being able to step outside the box and do something most Marines don’t get the chance to do is a privilege he doesn’t take for granted.

“Being with this team has been great,” he added. “We have been together for nine months, taking part in field exercises and different training evolutions so we are a real close bunch of Marines. Having the opportunity to see something more than the combat engineer world is a nice change of pace.”

Nalley and the other Immediate Reaction Team Marines work to enhance the security in already volatile situations. Keeping the area secure may seem like a simple task, but countless Marines and soldiers have been saved by them and the ordnance teams working together to dispose of Improvised Explosives Devices that are spread throughout the Al Anbar province.

*For more information about this story please contact Cpl. Herron at*

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