MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Dominic S. Lockwood wanted a change of pace in life and to get started on the right track after high school.
The Charleston, S.C., native has spent almost four years in the Marine Corps and two combat tours in Iraq with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He looks back on his career and realizes that without the Corps, he never would have experienced all he did.
Pfc. Lockwood deployed to An Nasariyah, Iraq in 2003 for six months. The infantry rifleman spent his time there as a “point man” for 2nd Platoon.
“As a point man, you are the first person in a fire team or squad that enters a building,” the 22-year-old explained. “You are the first man to take action, the first man in a patrol. You are counted on to be aware at all times in combat.”
He described what it’s like to have that much responsibility, and the feeling he got every time he entered a building.
“My adrenaline was always pumping,” he explained. “I would feel nervous and anxious every time we went anywhere. I knew that at any moment something bad could happen.”
Lockwood said that most of his time in Iraq in 2003 was spent “digging” into the city. He and his platoon moved constantly strengthening their control of the area.
Two years later, Lockwood’s experiences would be different. He deployed in February 2005 to Al Qa’im, Iraq for seven months.
This time he was on a base from which his unit would conduct operations and return when the mission was completed.
“I experienced a lot more action the second time around,” he said. “The first time we spent a lot of time setting up the defensive, but this time we were able to launch and conduct offensive operations against the enemy from a base. We would go out into one of the surrounding towns, conduct an operation, complete our mission and then return to the base for a nice shower, good food and a place to sleep. We didn’t have that in 2003.”
Lockwood said he felt like his unit was better supported this time because of the help from the Iraqi forces.
He also said there were a lot of other changes from his first deployment.
“Both the Iraqis and our living conditions have improved,” he said. “They were also used to us being there, and they understood that we were there to help rid the country of insurgents and get them back on their feet.”
The 2002 Hanahan High School graduate would experience something else that was new to him: being wounded in combat.
During Operation Matador, an offensive operation conducted north of the Euphrates River to disrupt and destroy insurgent strongholds, Lockwood and his platoon were clearing a section of a city when he got into a scuffle with a detained insurgent trying to escape from him.
“I was fighting with him to get him under control, when he grabbed part of my secondary weapon,” he explained. “The shotgun trigger got caught on my gear and went off. I got shrapnel in my right foot, but we were able to get control of the detainee.”
The wound took about a month to heal, but Lockwood got back into the fight, being a part of five or six more offensive operations before his return to the U.S. in September 2005.
In June 2006, Lockwood will “hang up his boots” and get out of the Marine Corps to pursue other opportunities in the civilian world.
He wants to get a degree in psychology, but he said for now he’ll return to carpentry and take life one step at a time.
The young veteran said he will take one thing with him from all his experiences in the Corps and in Iraq.
“I’ve learned to appreciate the little things. Showers, food, freedom, the little things in life that us as Americans sometimes take for granted. But I have the Marine Corps to thank for everything I’ve experienced. I got the change of pace I was looking for.”