SORTing out the Global War on Terrorism

13 Oct 2004 | Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

With many of the troops from 2d Marine Division deploying for operations in the Global War on Terrorism, there's one man who makes sure they're battle ready before they leave.

Sergeant Jeff Burry is the Status of Resource and Training System (SORTS) non-commissioned officer for the Division.  He's responsible for making sure 28 different Division units are properly equipped, trained and armed before they take off for battle.

"Basically, our system tells the Commandant of the Marine Corps how deployable each unit is according to their personnel and equipment strengths," said Burry, a Traveler's Rest, S.C. native.  "Unit representatives report their facts and figures in to me and I make an assessment from there - taking into consideration factors like broken equipment and injured Marines.

It's a job that demands a lot of responsibility and self drive, as Burry pores over units' weaknesses and capabilities to determine their statuses.  Burry learned his drive early on during his days at Traveler's Rest High School, where he graduated in 1998. 

"I worked a few jobs to keep afloat back then, both as a forklift driver in a warehouse and a janitorial supplier," said Burry.  

Before Burry enlisted in the Corps, he had to lose weight.  It's something many prospective Marines have to go through.  But he wasn't overweight because of body fat.  Burry was a weight lifter.

"I've seen people pass out on stage during competitions," said Burry.  "You have to lose a lot of fat to look the way these professional body builders do - even if you're already lean.  This wasn't a competition though, this was the Marine Corps."

Burry took on the typical Marine physique as he went through boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. in August of 1998.  He soon found out that the Marines he looked up to weren't huge muscle bound men.  They were lean, strong and quick - so he put his weight lifting aside to adjust to the Corps.

"When I joined the Corps, I didn't have time for weight lifting - believe it or not," said Burry.  "But I had the time to build on other strengths."

Burry worked on his leadership to enable him to climb up the ranks as an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.  Within a few years, he found himself on one of the most important missions in this age of terrorism, with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Battalion Landing Team.  The Amphibious Ready Group of ships carried his unit to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and also took part in a West Africa mission to support U.S. Embassy personnel in Liberia.

Much of his training involved fast roping from helicopters, patrolling and working late hours as a member of a quick reaction force, which responds to missions for immediate action.

After all of the action though, Burry likes to climb into his Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck and go mud bogging in the Carolina countryside.  To him, it's a past time that keeps him in perspective of life and what he can look forward to when coming home from a long deployment.  But most of all, he delights in spending time with his wife and two boys, ages five and seven.

"I've been across the world and back and I love being a Marine," said Burry.  "I've seen enough action to last me a lifetime, but I can never see enough of my family."