AL ASAD, Iraq -- The daily operations of a unit with over 3,000 members could not be accomplished without someone helping keep its personnel focused on its mission. The Marines in the administrative section of Marine Aircraft Group 26 do that and more 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Under the leadership and guidance of Chief Warrant Officer Rawley H. Colemon, personnel officer from Marvell, Ark., the Marines in the section commonly referred to as the S-1 shop make life easier for the Marines, sailors and Department of Defense civilians in the group.
“The MAG-26 S-1 is, in many ways, the backbone of the group,” said 1st Lt. Marlisa M. Grogan, MAG-26 adjutant and Wayne, N.J., native. “The administrative Marines complete the legwork which enable our service members to go on emergency leave, [temporary additional duty], and redeployment. They are always working behind the scenes to keep personnel affairs running efficiently.”
According to Colemon, every Marine in his shop spends a minimum of 12 hours each day minimizing the concerns of those who have administrative or financial issues.
Colemon supervises the work of his Marines, ensures everything is done in accordance with established guidelines and advises representatives from the individual squadrons on administrative procedures.
Working closely with Colemon is Gunnery Sgt. Walter E. Thomas, from Bartow, Ga. Thomas is the administrative chief and assistant postal officer. His many responsibilities include overseeing the personnel in the office, keeping track of all group personnel coming to and leaving Iraq, and staying in contact with subordinate commands to maintain an efficient working environment. He also oversees the proper handling of the more than 150 pounds of mail that arrive regularly for personnel in the group.
But the section’s movers and shakers are Sgt. Pamela M. Johnson, personnel chief from Tarry, Ark., and the four administrative clerks who make things happen and support the adjutant’s administrative needs.
To ensure all the paperwork that leaves the section was processed correctly, Johnson is an extra set of eyes supervising the work of the Marines and screens the incoming paperwork from the squadrons to make sure they’ve done their part with accuracy.
“One of the things that make us an important asset to the group is that we’re the ones who process [temporary additional duty] requests,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph Garcia, administrative clerk and native of Daily City, Calif. “If we don’t process those requests then nobody goes anywhere.”
Many things can happen during a deployment that require a member of the group to fly back to the United States. After that Marine or sailor comes back he’s required to complete a travel claim.
Lance Cpl. Troy M. Gray, an administrative clerk from Greensboro, N.C., assists with processing the claim and making sure the leave days are properly docked and the service member’s pay is adjusted accordingly.
Boosting the morale of some of the Marines here is Lance Cpl. Rudy J. Gonzalez, an admin clerk from Miami who looks up information on who is or isn’t recommended or selected for promotion, and types up the promotion warrants for the Marines moving up the ranks in the group’s headquarters squadron.
With more than 13 squadrons comprising the group, including a U.S. Army unit, keeping accountability of its members is no easy task. Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Gaines, an administrative and unit diary clerk from Akron, Ohio, assists Johnson with maintaining the day-to-day accountability of the group’s personnel. “As long as the squadrons do their part, that makes it easier on us,” said Gaines.
The seven Marines in the section take care of all the group’s administrative matters while also maintaining physical fitness standards and, in the junior Marines’ case, standing guard at locations such as the command post or the mess hall.
“As a relief we get together every Saturday afternoon and watch a movie,” said Colemon. “The Marines pick a movie and we sit down and watch it as a section. We are the only section in the command that does this.”
Colemon said the things that keep his Marines going day after day are the mail they receive from family and friends and the care packages they receive from supporters in the U.S.
“But the main thing that keeps them going is the mutual respect for their fellow Marines, they’re not going to let them down,” he said. “They might miss a meal that day, but the bottom line is that they’re going to take care of that Marine.”
- For more information about the Marines reported on in this story, please contact Sgt. Juan Vara by e-mail at email@example.com -