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Chief of Staff Col. Roger A. Smith presents reserve Marines with respective awards for their efforts in ensuring the constant flow of newly trained Marines through training pipelines on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Oct. 1, 2021. Seven reserve Marines with Training Command were awarded for their creative problem solving and dedication to duty while serving on Marine Corps Base Quantico. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael Slavin)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael Slavin

Reserve Marines Awarded for Covid-19 Efforts

26 Jan 2022 | (U.S. Marine Corps story by Cpl. Michael Slavin) Marine Corps Base Quantico

Seven reserve Marines assigned to Training Command G-4, Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA, were meritoriously awarded for efforts in coordinating and allowing the uninterrupted production of trained Marines to the fleet Marine force in the midst of a global pandemic. The Marines were recognized in a ceremony on October 1.

“After COVID kicked off, the Marine Corps came out with a lot of activation requests for the reserves to fill billets, especially the movement cell here at Training Command,” said Master Sgt. Michael Fork Training Command G-4 facilities chief.

When the Marine Corps does not have enough active-duty personnel to fill needed billets, the Marine Corps relies on the reserve component to compensate in times of increased stress.

“We were called upon to support what we call the MEMP, [minimum exposure movement plan] to contract planes, busses and other various types of movement to get the Marines from their SOI’s to their follow-on schools, and eventually into the fleet.” said 1 Lt. Mitchell T. Narbe unit movement control center officer in charge.

According to Narbe the Marine Corps requires a constant flow of new Marines through basic training, school of infantry (SOI), and eventually to the Marines MOS School. Without this movement, the Marine Corps is not able to be mission-ready at a moment's notice.

“We are here to keep the Marine Corps fed,” said Fork

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a new set of challenges and obstacles when it comes to keeping the training pipeline open.
“We are used to having so much space per Marine, and all of a sudden we had to separate and spread them out for social distancing. That affected our billeting, and our classroom spaces,” Fork explained. “Before COVID the civilian contractor would handle the transportation of the Marine after completion of boot camp. Now we are taking mass groups and moving them across the country to minimize their exposure.”

Narbe emphasized that there was no formal training coming into this mission, and much of what the team did was creative problem solving and relying on the group’s intuition. He explained that the group had little to no experience in this field.

“Figure out how to do it, because it was never done this way in the past,” said Fork

Having combined backgrounds in infantry, refrigeration maintenance, supply, and embarkation, the team faced a new set of challenges with no clear solution.

“Seeing everyone’s skillsets come together was really cool… looking on paper there was no reason that we should have been successful,” said Narbe.

The unusual team put together one 1st Lt., one Master Sergeant., two sergeants, and three Corporals were responsible for the transportation of 21,331 Marines over 191 flights and 950 bus routes. They were also responsible for registering more than 950 million facilities funding for more than 65 projects designed to enhance training capabilities.

1st Lt. Narbe said that all the credit goes to the team of Marines he worked with, volunteering time, and making personal sacrifices in support of the mission speaks volumes about their character.

“Every reservist out here today, volunteered to be out here...when the reservists are called upon, they are able to learn the mission quickly, you can tell they want to be there because every single one has been a volunteer for this mission,” Fork added.

For their efforts 1st Lt. Mitchell T. Narbe and MSgt. Michael E Fork were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Sgt. Jordan P. Riley and Sgt. Austin K. Thibodeaux were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. Cpl. Christian R. Brock and Cpl. Anthony J. Brown were each presented with a Certificate of Commendation. Cpl. Sara T. Gates was presented with a Meritorious Mast.

“These Marines represent the very best of what our Corps can produce. They volunteered their time, and in many cases sacrificed attention to their families to shore up our ranks, much needed during a national emergency. Most of them operated completely outside their MOS’s and formal training, flattened a straight-up steep learning curve, and knocked what they were tasked with out of the park,” said Lt. Col. Brad Anderson, assistant chief of staff G-4 Training Command.

(U.S. Marine Corps story by Cpl. Michael Slavin)

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