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Atlanta Marine Sgt. Mamadee Toure, the maintenance management chief for Headquarters Battalion (Forward), is on his third combat tour. He grew up in Liberia during its civil war in the 1990s, where he saw U.S. Marines as a child, and always wanted to be a Marine after seeing them help people there. Toure moved to the United States in 2001, pursued a college degree, secured a good-paying job, and dropped everything to follow his dream of being a U.S. Marine.

Photo by Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes

Atlanta Marine sees truth through war

20 Jan 2012 | Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes

Modern cinema often portrays human life in a manner that seems too surreal, with large explosions and quick timelines that turn hours into a matter of minutes. Sergeant Mamadee Toure recalled growing up in Monrovia, Liberia, seemed like an over-dramatized movie in slow motion, but it was a childhood that led him to what he is doing today.

Toure, who now calls Atlanta home, is the maintenance management chief for Headquarters Battalion (Forward). His experiences growing up with war taught him one of the greatest lessons of his young life.

Toure said he was approximately six years old when civil war broke out in his country. He said seeing dead victims of battle was common and came to dislike the reality that was his life.

“Have you seen the movie “Blood Diamond?” Some of the stuff that happened in that movie is so raw -- the killing and the brutality. I know it is acting, but that is how it really was,” said Toure as he compared his childhood to a film. “Kids were drugged and forced to fight. Child soldiers were everywhere. I cried through it because it brought back so many memories.”

Toure explained one memory from his childhood struck a chord in his heart and sent him a mission to achieve one goal in life.

“Being from Liberia and growing up with civil war in the 90s, (Marines) were over there fighting the rebels when I was little, shooting back at the rebels,” he said of the first time he saw U.S. Marines. “But (the Marines were) also helping little kids on the side of the road, kids who had been abandoned, or their parents were killed. They were picking them up while they were still fighting.”

That image of Marines helping the innocent and helpless stuck with him throughout his childhood, and Toure said he wanted nothing more than to be a Marine after he saw what they did.

When Toure was a teenager, he said one of his older siblings moved to the United States and applied to have his family moved to the states under a refugee status. Toure was able to immigrate to America in late 2001 and was determined to follow through with his dream. He added he was not able to join the armed forces upon immediately entering the United States because he did not have the proper documentation.

“I couldn’t do it straight out of high school because I didn’t have my ‘green card’ yet, so I went to college,” said the 2004 graduate of Lincoln College of Technology in Norcross, Ga. “I was a supervisor for (a satellite television provider) at the time, and I pretty much decided to drop everything because this is something I wanted to do. So I (joined the Corps) in 2006.”

Toure, who is now 28 years old, is on his third combat deployment since he started his career. He said he only has one goal when it comes to his job: to keep operational readiness high.

As the maintenance management chief, Toure is the link between individual battalions in the fight, the supply sections, and the commodity sections that manage ordnance, communications, motor transportation drivers and mechanics. If a truck breaks and it needs a part, the battalion needing the part will contact Toure, and he reports, tracks, requests and ensures delivery of whatever is ordered. A tedious job, but Toure is happy to do it so the Marine at the battalions within 2nd Marine Division (Forward) can stay focused on their missions.

“(His duties are) all mission critical. Without him, without having that guy to reconcile and get those things into the supply system, the corrective maintenance wouldn’t get done,” said Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth W. Hunter Jr., a Tampa, Fla., native and the supply and logistics chief for Headquarters Battalion (Fwd).

Hunter, who is Toure’s direct supervisor, added Toure is a vital part of supply. He is able to get that information from the units and act as a central hub for the battalions so they know where their parts are at all times. They could make multiple phone calls and likely not get an answer, but thanks to Toure, the work is done for them, all because Toure tracks all ordered parts and broken equipment daily.

“Working with Sergeant Toure is very unique,” said Hunter as he chuckled. “Not only does he have vast experience of being in a combat area, but he is also serious about his job when it comes to it. He is very passionate about his job and making sure the Marines under him are trained, so when they get ready to go back (to the states), they can still be in the fight.”

At the end of the day, Toure said he wants to help people much like the Marines he saw when he was just a boy, whether it’s helping them by ordering necessary parts to ensure vital equipment remains operational or just serving as a friend at the gym to workout with. After a hard life of war, the main reason he said he is happy to continue serving as a U.S. Marine is being able to impact someone else’s life.

“Contributing and making a difference in somebody else’s life, it humbles you; it makes you a better person. It makes you appreciate life and appreciate the little things.” he explained.

Editor’s note: Headquarters Battalion (Forward) is currently assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.