AL ASAD, Iraq -- Improvise, adapt and overcome. Since day one in recruit training, Marines are taught to be prepared for anything – even if that means working outside of their military occupational specialty.
Lance Cpl. Joshua Gilley went from the squadron’s administration office to being the machine gun section leader for Marine Wing Support Squadron 271’s Incident Response Platoon, and he is enjoying every minute of it.
“I love what I’m doing out here,” Gilley said. “It’s what I should have done from the start. I’ve been doing it for a little over a year now, and I enjoy it a lot.”
As the machine gun section leader, Gilley is responsible for making sure that the Marines in his section and the weapons they man are ready when IRP receives the call to go outside the wire.
“Prior to a mission I’ll have to check the machine guns to make sure their up and running, and functioning properly,” Gilley said. “I make sure all the Marines, as far as machine gunners and their (assistant) gunners, are properly trained. That they know how to employ the machine guns and establish their sectors of fire. Anything that they have to do outside the wire, I have to make sure they know.”
For the 21-year-old Marine, making the move from administration to manning a machine gun was easy.
“I’m not really an office type person, so I made the transition pretty well I think,” Gilley said. “I enjoy it a lot. If I could stay here and do it, I would. I’m probably going to lat move while I’m out here.”
Gilley feels that the experience he is gaining is the best part of his new job.
“My favorite part is getting the hands on experience with the weapons, working with other Marines and training them on the weapons systems, and actually getting to go outside and do the mission on the ground as well,” Gilley said.
The Marines in Gilley’s crew look to him for the knowledge that he has, according to Lance Cpl. Gentry Cleveland, an IRP machine gunner.
“He knows his stuff,” Cleveland said. “Anything you ask him, if he doesn’t know, he’ll find out.”
The way Gilley leads his Marines proves that he is more than ready for responsibility, according to Staff Sgt. Ryan Thomas, the IRP platoon sergeant.
“Everything I look for in an NCO, he has those qualities ten-fold,” Thomas said. “His skill is greater than the current rank he holds, by far. I can count on him to do anything.”
Gilley, a Cedartown, Ga., native, said that his family’s history in the Corps motivated him to join the Marines three years ago.
“I’m a third generation Marine,” Gilley explained. “My grandfather was in the Marine Corps. My father was in the Marine Corps. I’m just carrying on the tradition. I like everything the Marine Corps stands for.”
Gilley plans on staying in the Marine Corps, at least for another enlistment.
His conduct recently earned Gilley the title of Marine Wing Support Group 27 Marine of the Quarter.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Thomas said of Gilley winning. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins every board he ever goes on. That’s the caliber of Marine he is.”
Overall, Thomas believes Gilley is just the kind of Marine that IRP needs to accomplish the mission in Iraq.
“I can go outside the wire with him anytime, anywhere, and know that he’s covering my six with a heavy machine gun,” said Thomas. “I don’t have to worry about his section of machine guns being up and running, I know he’s going to take care of it.”