PATROL BASE SHARK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
He who leads Marines into battle must be able to inspire them to work toward a common goal or mission through the best and worst of times.
Tulsa, Okla., native Cpl. Daniel Blesi, an infantry squad leader with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, uses his experience and knowledge to lead his squad through the unit’s area of operations and serves as a role model for his Marines.
Young Daniel was born and raised in the Northeastern part of Oklahoma, in the heart of "Green Country." After graduating from Union High School in 2007, he attended a local community college, where he suddenly realized he wanted to do something important in his life.
“It kind of just happened out of the blue,” said Blesi. “I just thought it would be something good to do. Instead of graduating high school and doing something just for myself, I wanted something bigger than that.”
Blesi said he is making his dreams a reality in the Marine Corps every day, leading his Marines as they selflessly risk their lives for their country.
“(These guys) know that our country and the country of Afghanistan rely on us, and I really do feel like we’re making a difference out here,” explained Blesi.
One marine in his squad said he believes Blesi has made a difference, not only for the country, but for the entire squad and platoon.
“He’s got a lot on his shoulders,” said Lance Cpl. Alfred Grossklaus, a team leader in Blesi’s squad and a New York City native. “But he does a really good job of making sure we get everything we need and always looks out for us.”
He always makes sure they have a meal to eat and water to drink, always double-checks their gear before they go outside the base, and asks about their morale on a daily basis. Blesi also tries to keep a healthy relationship with every one of his Marines.
“I’ve known Corporal Blesi for more than three years. We went to (the School of Infantry) together, and this is our second deployment to Afghanistan together,” said Grossklaus. “I recently got married when we got back from our last deployment, and Corporal Blesi flew to New York and was there at my wedding in his dress (blue uniform). It’s something I really appreciated, and it meant a lot.”
Blesi goes out of his way to be there for his Marines, but he also makes sure they are doing the right things. The hunting and outdoor enthusiast tries his best to make sure things are done correctly.
“He doesn’t cut any corners and does things the right way,” explained Grossklaus. “He never (half-steps) anything. He’s a genuine guy and makes sure everything is done by the book. He knows that doing things the way they’re supposed to be done will ultimately save lives.”
The “Thundering 3/4” Marines recently arrived to Afghanistan and Blesi’s number-one goal is to make sure his Marines return the way they left the U.S.
“I think the biggest thing is they realize that they are my main concern over anything else. I tell them often that my number-one goal while I’m here is to make sure everyone goes back the way they came,” said Blesi. “I can live with not killing any bad guys, but it would be a lot harder knowing that one of my Marines got hurt on my watch.”
Editor’s Note: The battalion is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (Forward). The division 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 to secure the Afghan people, defeat insurgent forces, and enable ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.