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Sgt. James J. Creel, an infantryman currently assigned as the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection and ground training chief for Marine Aircraft Group 29 teaches a class for the Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 quick reaction force, April 26.

Photo by Sgt. Anthony Guas

Grunt uses experience to ensure MAG-29, squadrons are secure

15 May 2007 | Sgt. Anthony Guas

While deployed to Al Asad, Iraq, some Marines are working outside of their military occupational specialties doing anything from security to detaining suspicious personnel. One sergeant is using his experience to help ensure that those Marines are trained and ready for almost anything.

Sgt. James J. Creel, an infantryman currently assigned as the Anti-Terrorism Force Protection and ground training chief for Marine Aircraft Group 29, is the Marine responsible for training the Group’s squadrons.

“Creel’s job is to organize and train the squadrons interior guard personnel and help develop and integrate squadron defense plans into the MAG and base defense plans,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Anderson, the officer in charge of ATFP and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense.

Creel, who has been with MAG-29 since June 2006, has been critical in preparing the Marines and Sailors for their current deployment, according to Anderson.

“My job mainly deals with ATFP while we are over here, stateside it’s a lot of ground training,” explained Creel. “I do anything that has to do with any physical security with the squadrons to T-wall emplacement on the flightline.”

During Desert Talon, an exercise at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Creel conducted training on the use of deadly force, rules of engagement, escalation of force, weapons handling and safety, reporting procedures, and procedures for detention of suspicious personnel.

Throughout his current deployment, Creel has continued that training, but has also included establishing a defense with placement and coordination of sentries and fire positions, guardian angel programs, controlling access to a facility or squadron space and initial response team training in coordination with the base Quick Reaction Force.

“I think he would not be nearly as effective at this job if he were not an 03 (infantryman),” said Anderson. “Daily, he draws on his past experiences conducting convoys, patrols, establishing security bases and operating and supervising entry control points.  He also worked closely with the Iraqi Army and police.  He is a been-there done-that guy that immediately gets everyone’s attention when he adds something to a conversation about security around the base.”

The Moss Point, Miss., native, joined the ranks of the Corps in June 2002.

“I joined because of the thought of knowing that I was going to combat,” said Creel. “Also because the Marines have the best uniform.”

Before his permanent change of address to MAG-29, Creel was part of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

“The first couple of years (with Golf Company) I was a (M249) SAW gunner, then I picked up team leader and then they moved me to the headquarters to be the (noncommissioned officer in charge) of the armory,” said Creel. “This is my fifth deployment to Iraq in a little over four and a half years; I went to Al Kut, Baghdad, Fallujah and now Al Asad.”

Although Creel was constantly deployed, he does not regret enlisting or being an infantryman.

“I enjoyed what I did; of course you have your good with your bad,” said Creel. “I recommend it to anybody, especially for their first four years. The best thing about (being with a ground side unit) was the camaraderie, because you have a 12-man squad and you are more like a 12 man family.”

Constant deployments were not a deterrent for Creel, who recently reenlisted, but before moving on with his career he felt he needed to do something different. 

“I was going through my options for reenlistment; it was a (Special Operations Training Group) instructor, (Infantry Training Battalion) instructor or come over to the MAG. I chose the MAG as a kind of cool off before moving on to a B Billet.”

Although Creel feels that working with the Group is easier than constant work-ups and deployments with an infantry unit, he believes that he is still serving a great purpose.

“I think training these squadrons is very important, especially because different (areas of operation) in Iraq require different threat levels,” explained Creel. “Of course here you wouldn’t act the same as you would (somewhere else). It’s a little bit more down tempo here.”

In addition to helping the Marines in the Group, Creel enjoys the opportunity to share the knowledge he has learned as an infantryman.

“I like being able to train, that’s what I came over to do,” said Creel. “I like being hands on with the Marines at the squadron; showing them how to react to situations, how to set up their securities and about dead space. Teaching them what I know. It makes them more effective, for one, leaders and two, how they run their security plans overall.”

Creel is in the first leg of his reenlistment and although he plans to stay with the Group for now, he is weighing his options.

“I’ll come back from this deployment and look at my options for getting out or the retention program,” said Creel. “I would like to find a B billet overseas. I really want to get out of the states again and take my wife with me and show her a different side of the Marines Corps. Maybe Japan, where I have been before.”

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