CAMP RIPPER, Al Asad, Iraq -- The police motto, ‘To Protect and to Serve,’ is often lettered across police vehicles in many towns and cities in the United States. As Marines with Regimental Combat Team-2 begin to police this area of Iraq for insurgents, one sergeant knows this routine all too well.
Sergeant Michael H. Lusczc, a sergeant of the guard for the security element with RCT-2, left from protecting and serving his home town, in order to protect and serve Iraqis.
Lusczc is a Marine reservist and civilian police officer. He brings his experience to the Marines in Iraq so they can perform their jobs better here.
“These people over here need us,” Luszcz said. “I know that my community is a better place because of me and my fellow officers’ actions. Now, I’m trying to make it safe for the Iraqi people as well.”
He made the decision to serve his community by first serving his country. At the age of 16, he decided to join the Marine Corps when he was eligible, which was only a year later.
“My father was in the army during Vietnam, so I kind of wanted the military experience,” the 30-year-old said. “I knew I wanted to be a Marine because I loved the way they always presented themselves. As soon I turned 17 I signed up knowing that I was going to be part of the best.”
He became a military policeman after completing all of his basic training and knew it would continue to be his career after he finished his tour of duty.
“I love helping people,” the 1992 Ludlow High School graduate said. “When you do something good in this job field everyone remembers you for that. It’s not like in some places where you do something that helps everyone out and no one even says ‘thank you.’ A little recognition goes along way.”
After he completed his first tour of duty, he joined the Individual Mobilization Augmentation that allowed him to choose his reserve training dates and deployment schedule.
“The program is great because I have the chance to train with the active duty Marines and it gave me a chance to get my associate’s degree in criminal justice from Springfield Technical College,” the Springfield, Mass., native said.
During his reserve status, he was able to get a job as a deputy chief at the Hampden County Police Department. He continued to work there until he decided it was the time to do something for his country and himself.
“I was voluntarily recalled in November,” he said. “I was surprised it took as long as it did, but I am glad I got my chance to do something more to help win the war on terror instead of watching it helplessly on TV,” he said smiling.
Upon arrival in Iraq, he realized how important this mission is and it reassured him that he and his fellow Marines were doing the right thing.
“I’m used to dealing with crime where I come from, but it’s nowhere near as serious as it is here,” he said. “On the first convoy I went on we hit an IED (improvised explosive device) and that was the real eye-opener. I want to give these people the opportunity to be able to travel on the streets without worry of things like that,” he said.
Luszcz’s time in country will be over in September, but he knows the war on terror will continue. Because of that, he plans to do something a little extra for the Corps when he gets back.
“I plan on becoming a recruiter’s assistant when I get back home. That way when potential Marines come in I can give a first hand account of what the situation is like in Iraq and why it’s necessary to be there,” Luszcz said. “Also, I will stay on the police force, because I know the only way to keep our home safe is to protect and serve there as I did over here.”