MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- From the catapults of yesteryear to modern-day cruise missile systems, warriors have relied on projectile-launching weapons since the Middle Ages to rain destruction upon their enemies.
The M198 Howitzer is one such weapon in the Marine Corps’ cutting edge arsenal, capable of destroying insurgents from 14 miles away with 155mm shells.
Cpl. Patrick Geary, though not personally pulling the lanyard to fire this massive gun, helps keep these weapons on the front lines of the Global War on Terrorism by his work as a supply administration clerk.
The 24-year-old Virginia Beach, Va., native is assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division and keeps the weapons in the fight by acquiring the components necessary to maintain and refurbish them.
“I keep track of all the CMRs (property records) of the battalion, making sure that all the parts we need are on order,” said Geary, a 2000 graduate of Ocean Lakes High School. “I make sure the sections are spending the appropriate amounts of money so that all sections within the battalion get the funds they need.”
Geary keeps accountability not just over the battalion’s main weapons, but also the artillerymen’s personal weapons, such as M-16A4 service rifles, and the unit’s vehicles, communications gear and miscellaneous equipment. It is an inventory he estimated as worth well into the millions of dollars.
This massive amount of responsibility is all in a day’s work for Geary. He has also helped keep track of thousands of Marine and Iraqi Security Force troops conducting operations throughout western Iraq’s turbulent Al Anbar province.
“I worked in the G-3 (2nd Marine Division’s operations cell) from (February 2005 to February 2006. It was basically a watch clerk billet, where we reported events like troops coming under fire.
“I also watched what the different units in the area and UAVs were doing,” he continued, referring to how he and his fellow watch clerks kept track of unmanned aerial vehicle activities.
Geary used the data both units and UAVs gathered on operations to compile reports and briefings for the division’s commanding general, who was responsible for all ground unit operations in Al Anbar.
This responsibility, along with performing his regular duties as a supply administration Marine, taught Geary valuable job and time management skills. These were among the primary reasons he joined the Corps in 2002.
“I wanted to get a better job and give something back to my country,” said Geary, who worked fast food jobs at Wendy’s and Burger King prior to enlisting. “The Marine Corps has definitely given me the skills and training necessary to get a good job when I get out and support my family.”
That day is still at least 16 years away, however, because Geary recently reenlisted and plans to make a career of the military.
“I like that I’ll be able to retire after 20 years, then move on to getting a job in the civilian sector doing inventory and supply admin stuff like I’ve been doing in the Marines.
For now, Geary continues performing his job conscientiously to prepare for his unit’s possible deployment to Iraq next year. The working hours are long, Geary said, but it’s a sacrifice well worth the effort for him.
“I’m used to working long days, sometimes up to twelve hours like we did in Iraq. Getting out of the shop at 1600 (4 p.m.) is like a treat for us. But I know that the work we do is important, because we get the unit all the equipment they need to function. We’re the ones that make that happen.”