MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines are taught early on in training the best leaders will show the way and lead from the front, and Lance Cpl. John G. McElwee, a squad leader with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, does.
He shows his Marines how to get the job done, leading by example, charging into the action, ready to get his hands dirty along with them.
“My training and experience give me the confidence I need to lead these Marines,” said McElwee, a Cincinnati native.
McElwee is looking forward to deploying again. He says that he enjoys deployment because of the work that gets done.
“I like being home,” he said “I want to deploy and get the job done right so that we can bring everyone back when we’re ready.”
McElwee served as a squad automatic weapon gunner for part of his first deployment. Before carrying the SAW, he was a rifleman.
“I enjoyed using the M-249 SAW,” he said. “It was interesting to carry such a powerful weapon.”
McElwee was selected to be a squad leader after returning from deployment in Iraq. This meant he was to take over the position and push his Marines to work hard and train hard like his leaders did for him.
“Being in charge of three fireteams means I’m now in charge of three SAW gunners and their combined firepower,” he said. “It’s more responsibility, but I’m ready for it.”
McElwee trained with Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and Marines from 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment as part of a week long exercise in infantry tactics for an urban environment.
Pfc. Dustin Butler an assaultman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment was in the same squad as McElwee during the training exercise here. McElwee led a fireteam of Marines during the exercise.
“McElwee took charge of the situation,” said Butler. “He led his Marines from the front. He had confidence with every room they cleared and didn’t slow down for anything.”
McElwee led his fireteam from the front as his squad cleared each building. He said it wasn’t enough to just push his Marines forward.
“I have experience with these types of operations,” he said. “I know what it takes to get the job done and I do it.”
Military service always held an interest for McElwee, whose father and sister both served as officers in the U.S. Navy. It was Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism that pushed him to join.
“I’m glad I joined the Corps,” McElwee said. “I’m glad I chose the infantry.”
“It’s something I felt I had to do,” he said. “Infantry seemed like it was the heart of the Corps, and that’s where I wanted to be.”
With half of his time in the Corps already spent McElwee, is debating what to do when he gets out. For the time being he plans to go to college. After serving his country as a Marine he is considering serving his community as a teacher.
“I’ve always been interested in higher education,” he said. “I think I might go become a history teacher.”