CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq -- A mother diligently packs a box for her son, a Marine serving in Iraq. She includes all his favorite treats, things to read and mementos from home. A girlfriend writes a long letter to her boyfriend and a wife sends pictures to her husband of their newborn baby. A stranger sends treats to a person they will never meet as an expression of gratitude to the Marines who protect their home.
No matter who sends mail to deployed Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, it will all pass through the hands of one Marine.
Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Price, a 21-year-old Alma, Ga., native, is the mail clerk for the battalion. He is one of the final steps in the long process a package must go through before landing in the hands it is intended for. Once mail arrives in his possession, he makes sure it is distributed to the proper companies. The job is not one he picked but stumbled onto instead.
After enlisting under an open contract in September 2003, Price found out that instead of getting his wish and becoming an infantryman or military policeman, he was going to become an administrative clerk.
“It kind of took the wind out of my sails,” said Price. “But I was like, let me see if I can ride this out because there is nothing I can do about it now.”
Upon being assigned to the battalion, he wasn’t sure what his job would be.
“When I arrived in the fleet, there were three corporals working in the mail room and I just started to help out wherever I could,” Price added. “After they left, the shop needed someone to take over and I was handy. I was lucky I guess.”
“It was a billet I had open at the time so that’s why I assigned it to him,” said Staff Sgt. Reginald L. Nelms, the administrative chief.
Price says that he enjoys his job right now and wouldn’t want to do anything else.
“It’s been great so far,” he said. “I have made some good friends. I know an entire battalion and everyone knows me.”
Being a mail clerk is more rigorous than most people think, but still not that bad according to Price.
“The only bad parts of my job are the convoys to pick mail up, dealing with the mass quantities of mail we receive and the demand for it from the Marines,” Price stated. “They want their mail now! It falls back on me if they don’t get it.”
Over the holiday season, Price has dealt with enormous amounts of mail from families back home sending Christmas presents.
“It was crazy,” he said. “Just massive loads of mail, I felt like I was swimming in it. I had to get it pushed out though.”
His work ethic and dedication to duty is noticed by his chain of command, which praises him.
“Seeing that he is out there, just one man during the Christmas season sorting two or three seven-tons (trucks) worth of mail every day, I think he’s doing a pretty good job,” said Nelms. “I think he’s an outstanding Marine; if he’s given a task he will try and do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Price credits his extensive workout routine for helping him move around such a large number of packages.
“It’s just something I have always done since high school,” he said. “I like having a goal, breaking it and then setting a new goal. I like feeling as if I am stronger than the next guy.”
Price enlisted in the Marine Corps to escape some rough times and from a desire to be a hero to someone.
“I wanted to make myself into the heroes I always saw on T.V. growing up,” Price said with a boyish grin on his face. “I feel like I got a little kid inside of me all the time.”
The Marine Corps has been good to Price, a point he readily acknowledges.
“It kept me alive,” he said firmly. “I got what I needed out of it.”
That isn’t the only thing Price credits to his success in life.
“Getting married two years ago and having a son slowed me down a lot,” he said with joy in his voice. “I don’t think about myself first, I think about my family first. I stopped drinking and dipping because I don’t want my son to see it. I love my wife Mandy and my son Brandon very much.”