FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Marines like Cpl. Daniel K. Jones from the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment’s Headquarters and Service Company travel once a week to the infantry Marines’ bases throughout Fallujah to offer their services.
Upon reaching each base, the small arms technician fixes the infantry companies’ weapons while Marines from several other trades render their services as well.
This is the basic premise behind the (executive officer) ‘XO’s Road Show,’ a convoy comprised of H&S personnel that travel to visit their infantry brethren throughout the city weekly.
“Here on the XO’s Road Show, I inspect weapons and repair whatever’s unserviceable,” explained Jones, a 23-year-old Mt. Gilead, Ohio native.
The 2000 Mt. Gilead High School graduate is only one of the H&S Marines supporting the infantry companies, though. Administrative experts, medical personnel, and operations and intelligence analysts support the convoy as well.
“This is a one-stop shop,” stated Maj. Brian S. Christmas, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment’s executive officer and the person for whom the ‘XO Road Show’ is named. “It provides immediate attention and assistance to just about any existing problem. More importantly, it gives the companies a chance, every five to seven days, to step back for a moment and look at their surroundings.
“Sustaining the force is a necessity,” Christmas continued. “If things like weapons, vehicles, gear and personnel aren’t combat ready, the unit isn’t combat ready. These things can sometimes be easy to overlook when you’re caught up in continuous operations.”
The infantry Marines’ combat readiness remains high however, because H&S Marines like Jones fix their broken optics, radios, and vehicles.
Additionally, Marines in the field can attend a weekly religious service, as the road show brings with it the battalion’s chaplain. The Marines can also speak to the chaplain and receive counsel.
Another road show service field Marines look forward to is the ‘exchange on wheels,’ a mini-store loaded into the back of a seven-ton truck.
“Anything we sell to the Marines back on the main camp, we try to bring out here,” explained Staff Sgt. Brian M. Bonk, an exchange manager with the 2nd Force Service Support Group. “Stuff like non-perishable food, health and hygiene items, and entertainment materials.”
“This service is excellent,” stated Lance Cpl. Jason S. Crowder, an H&S Company radio operator currently working with Company C. “We’re pretty much stuck down here, so it’s nice to have food and essentials brought out to us.”
The infantry Marines can withdraw money to make these purchases by cashing checks or taking directly from their paycheck. This is accomplished by working through a disbursing clerk, another asset on the road show.
Road show personnel also know that conditions in the field can often be less than sanitary. For this reason, medical personnel come along and conduct health and comfort inspections.
“The PMT (Preventive Medicine Technician, a medical specialist who inspects areas such as living quarters and dining facilities) takes a look at their living spaces and does insect control (by spraying insecticide),” explained Chief Petty Officer Nathan Whiddon, the battalion’s medical chief. “We give the companies tips on proper sanitation and disease prevention.”
Whiddon added that H&S medical staff also re-supply their line corpsmen and drop off training materials.
“We’re kind of like their S-1 (administration) shop. If the line corpsmen have any admin, pay or promotion issues, it’s our chance to take care of it.”
Perhaps as important as the unique service each Marine provides, is the new understanding the infantrymen garner about their headquarters counterparts.
“It shows them how much work H&S Marines do and how much support they provide,” Christmas stated. “It’s easy to overlook them and think that because they are not out on patrol that they are just sitting around doing nothing. The road show provides those Marines a firsthand look at what the H&S Company Marines are doing for them.”