HURRICANE POINT, Ar Ramadi, Iraq -- Marines with 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, have a special piece of gear they never leave behind when going out on an operation. Doing so could jeopardize their mission accomplishment.
It's high speed and low drag, but it's not a machine, it's a 6-foot-7-inch 200-pound Marine.
Lance Cpl. Joshua A. Shores, a squad automatic gunner for 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company A, often makes searching buildings and rooms light work for the rest of the Marines in his platoon.
The 19-year-old New Richmond, Wis., native's specialty is making an entrance where there isn't one, according to Lance Cpl. Lou N. Coloma, squad automatic gunner with 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Company A.
"He's a real asset to have when clearing buildings," said the 23-year-old from Chicago. "He'll usually kick down the door or bust through the wall. If he can't do that, then he'll just climb over. He's so tall."
Shores is the right man for the job when entering somewhere requires force, he said.
He kicked down and busted through locked and barricaded wooden and metal doors with ease while patrolling the city here recently with his company. They might as well have been cardboard because they did nothing to stop him. With his strength, size and warrior determination, he tore a path from the bottom to the top of each building.
While he may be a one man wrecking crew on the job, he's a gentle giant when the mission's completed, said Coloma.
"He's fun to be around," he said. "He makes light of bad situations. He's the type of person you can joke with and count on when the going gets tough. He's honest and a good Marine."
Shores, whose father, Ernest Shores, served in the Corps from 1976 to 1980, said he wanted to be a Marine since he was a young child and enlisted the first chance he got.
"I joined when I was seventeen," he said. "I had to get my parents signature."
After enlisting at Recruiting Substation Eau Claire, Wis., Shores spent a year in the delayed entry program while he finished out his senior year of high school at New Richmond High School.
He graduated early and left to attend Marine Corps Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif.
"I had enough credits to graduate early," he said. "I decided it would be best to go ahead and attend boot camp as soon as possible. I went back home after I graduated boot camp and received my diploma with the rest of my class when they had their graduation ceremony."
Shores proudly wore his Dress Blue uniform during his high school graduation.
He said enjoys being a Marine and belonging to an organization that is making a difference in the world.
"I feel like I'm helping people," he said. " Going from house to house searching for weapons is great. Over all, I know I'm helping someone by being a Marine."
Being deployed to Iraq and fighting in a war doesn't bother Shores.
"I don't dwell on anything much because no matter how bad it gets, it will eventually get better, God will make sure of that," he said. "The Marines before me had it a whole lot worse."
Shores also said he appreciates the camaraderie between he and his fellow Marines.
"I like making friends with the Marines in my company," he said. "They really are like my brothers."
Aside from the Corps, Shores' hobbies include hunting deer and game birds back in his home state of Wisconsin, playing the guitar and spending time with his fiancée, Signe Ness.
"I plan on marrying her when I return home from deployment."