CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- As the sun began to rise, Lance Cpl. Juan T. O’Neal donned his protective gear in preparation for the day’s journey.
The Chicago native is part of the Personal Security Detachment, which keeps a watchful eye on the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment’s executive officer as he travels throughout the unit’s area of operations.
“Whenever we get out of the vehicles I stay close to him providing security with the other Marines,” said O’Neal, a 2003 Brownsville Military Academy graduate.
O’Neal and his fellow Marines with PSD are prepared to face any attack the insurgents may plan to ensure Maj. Larry Miller’s safe movement through their AO. The PSD has fended off a number of attacks in the past as they provided security for the XO.
“When out with the XO there is usually something happening,” explained O’Neal. “We are usually out in the action and our convoys have been regularly hit by enemy attacks.”
Each time the vehicles stop to check out anything along the road or to search a house, O’Neal and the other Marines exit the vehicle first to check for improvised explosive devices.
“Out on convoys and patrols we are always searching the streets and houses for IED’s and any weapons,” O’Neal said.
While on foot, O’Neal has his personal radio on him at all times ensuring he is always in communication with the vehicles and other Marines in the convoy. Staying connected ensures that he is aware of any threat in the area and is able to provide the best security possible for the XO.
“We keep radio contact all the time because the XO and I may be in a different room or different houses and if something happens we need to always be in radio contact to get other Marines to us or for us to get to them,” O’Neal explained.
As the battalion continues to conduct operations here supporting the Operation Iraqi Freedom, O’Neal and his fellow Marines will continue to ensure Millers safety as he provides the subordinate units with guidance to direct their efforts in stabilizing the country.
“O’Neal has one of the unsung jobs and his role is to always protect the battalion commander or myself putting his own safety aside every time out,” explained Miller.