BARWANA, Iraq -- Being an infantryman and standing security posts go hand in hand when in Iraq. While some are in security positions and others are regulating traffic, these posts are an important part of keeping Marines safe here.
Standing many hours on these posts keeping his fellow Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, safe is Los Angeles native, Lance Cpl. Steve Nuno.
The automatic rifleman spends hours everyday manning the entry control point and other security position at the base here. His job while spending time on these mostly uneventful posts is to watch the streets and other areas around the base to ensure no vehicles enter that are not supposed to.
“The biggest thing we are looking for is VBIEDs [Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices],” commented the 20-year-old Nuno.
Standing post is considered one of the worst parts of operating at a base, but according to Nuno, a 2003 graduate of Long Beach Poly High School, it does have its advantages.
“We are the only ones who get to interact with the people in the community,” Nuno said. “Especially the little kids, they are really fun. Some of them know a little English so they try to talk to you and it’s fun figuring out what they are trying to say.”
Little children are not the only Iraqi people Nuno gets to interact with while standing post. Many times he is paired with soldiers from the Iraqi military who provide another aspect of the culture.
“We get to learn a lot about each other’s cultures and each other’s military,” said Nuno, a two-time Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. “And they always have some food with them.”
Marines, like Nuno, are paired up with the Iraqi soldiers at each post to mentor them so they can operate independently. Training these soldiers is just one of many things the Marines do to help out the Iraqi people.
“It’s always good to help out the Iraqi people,” said Nuno, who joined the Marine Corps in September 2003. “Some even come up to you and tell you where [improvised explosive devices] are and where the bad guys are so we can get them out of the city.”
While on post, Marines like Nuno not only teach Iraqi soldiers how to work independently, but also encourage them to handle different situations on their own. If their post comes under attack, they might be one of the only things keeping Marines safe.
“I put him in place and he knows what to do,” said Cpl. Ralph E. Arzate, a squad leader with L Company. “He lives for the adrenaline rush, and I’ve never had to worry about him when on post.”
While possibly on his last deployment in the Marine Corps, Nuno hopes to receive the same adrenaline rush he got in the Marines as a firefighter. After being in the Marines for a few years, Nuno says a desk job just won’t do for him.
“I hate jobs that have a routine,” Nuno commented. “I need a job where you just never know what the next day is going to bring.”