AL ASAD, Iraq -- At first glance, Cpl. Deborah L. Myatt, administrative clerk for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764, doesn’t seem like the prototypical recipient for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter award.
The third-year Marine from Lancaster, Calif., is known by those she works with for her sense of humor, and for good reason. But there’s a lot more to Myatt than a few jokes.
“She livens things up,” said Cpl. Ryan M. Brown, an administrative clerk with HMM-764 and Chino Hills, Calif., native. “She’s like the clown of the office, but not in a bad way. She’s a really hard worker.”
Myatt is one of the reserve squadron’s active duty Marines. After looking into other services, she had given up on the military.
“The Air Force kept blowing me off and the Army offered me a lot of money. But I wasn’t joining for the money,” she said. “I never wanted to join the Navy and my parents said they’d never let me be a Marine.”
When a high school friend came home from recruit training, Myatt’s interest was sparked, and eventually her parents relented.
“They were not all about it, but they came around and they are very proud,” she said.
After completing all the necessary training, Myatt spent a year in Okinawa, Japan, before receiving orders to HMM-764. When the unit deployed to Iraq, she was happy to support a mission she cares about.
“People who protest the war don’t know what it’s about,” she said. “In the long run, it’s not about (weapons of mass destruction). It’s about people and about the freedom to not be afraid. Protestors need to realize that.”
In Iraq, Myatt has grown into a better Marine and a more confident leader. She wore a tan belt when she arrived in Iraq, the lowest qualification level in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. When HMM-764 leaves Iraq, Myatt will wear a green belt, a considerable accomplishment in seven months. But Myatt’s peers have also noticed other improvements that are harder to measure.
“She’s a good Marine, a fast learner,” said Sgt. Raymond M. Garcia Cartijo, the squadron administration chief and Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, native. “She trains junior Marines and her peers and ensures they’re taken care of, and she hasn’t been a corporal for that long.”
It came as no surprise when Myatt won the NCO of the Quarter award for her squadron. The real challenge was the competition that came next.
“(The MAG-26 NCO of the Quarter competition) was scary,” she said. “There were so many people there I thought, ‘No way am I going to win this!’” But she did, and went on to win the next competition, for the entire 2nd MAW.
When the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps came to Al Asad, they ate lunch with Myatt and other outstanding Marines. Sergeant Maj. of the Marine Corps John L. Estrada announced and personally rewarded the 2nd MAW NCO of the Quarter.
“I jumped when he called my name,” she said. “It was definitely one of the top five experiences of my life.”
As Myatt and the rest of her squadron prepare for their return home, she looks forward to where her Marine Corps career will take her next. If she is promoted again, Myatt would like to become a drill instructor. If not, she plans on leaving active duty and going to college. But even if she decides to do it, Myatt said she’ll join the reserves.
“Rifle qualifications, physical fitness tests and the rest all motivate me,” she said. “I’m going to stay in. I love being a Marine.”