CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq -- Marines are trained to be leaders, but some Marines find themselves in leadership positions sooner than planned when faced with the unexpected conditions in Iraq.
Pfc. Taylor J. Shiner became an acting team leader in 1st Platoon, Company C, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, after the original team leader was injured.
“Our vehicle was in an accident. My team leader was tossed from the vehicle,” the East Bridgewater, Mass., native explained. “He had a couple of serious injuries, but he will be coming back to us.”
Until this temporary assignment as team leader, Shiner served as an automatic rifleman in his team.
"I was just another Marine doing my job the best I could. My section leader got me interested in being a team leader, so I was already learning how to do the job,” Shiner stated. “After the accident occurred, I was forced to step it up leadership-wise.”
Leadership is a comfortable companion to the young Marine who was the captain of his football and indoor track teams in high school.
“Learning about leadership in high school helped me transition into the Marine Corps, especially now after becoming team leader,” he explained. “Team leader is a noncommissioned officer billet (corporal or sergeant) and I am only a private first class, so it has been a huge jump for me.
“Being a team leader involves having control of your team and vehicle. I also make sure the Marines around me know what is going on,” he said. “I try to keep them well briefed.”
Shiner’s junior rank isn’t the only challenging factor for him. He was deployed here after being assigned to the battalion only two months earlier. He had just graduated from recruit training and his military occupational school prior to his assignment.
“Being out here is new to me, but I am learning things everyday,” he said.
Shiner joined the Marine Corps as an infantryman because he wanted to be at the forefront of the action.
“I like to get down and dirty and work with my hands a lot. I like being with the frontline forces,” Shiner said.
The frontline is where he is at with his Marines as they conduct one or two patrols a day.
“We have been on a couple of raids and while on a patrol, I found an improvised explosive device. It was actually the first one found by the battalion,” Shiner explained. “We also search houses and vehicles.”
Like the leaders before him, Shiner adapted to his new leadership role while serving on the forefront of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“It is definitely interesting out here, but I have a lot of good leaders teaching me what to do. It is hard work being a team leader, but I don’t mind working harder to help my fellow Marines,” he said.