FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
Young Marines on their first deployment meet many new experiences and challenges on a daily basis, which can be overwhelming at times. These Marines work through these challenges by talking to their leaders and fellow Marines.
For Marines in Company C, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, Dalton, Ga., native Cpl. Matthew T. Williams is the man to see. His appearance can testify to the years of experience he has gained serving in the battalion, with the dust on his uniform, a well-earned tan, and a handy knife constantly at his side.
Williams, a heavy equipment operator, works with some of the most crucial machinery used by the battalion, such as bulldozers and forklifts. This type of equipment is critical to the battalion’s mission, which includes creating and maintaining the forward operating base and various posts in the area in support of Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (Forward).
Williams wastes no time getting to know the Marines he’s working with, and he remains very open with those who come to him. He builds rapport to allow himself better opportunities to develop his Marines into the professionals and warriors they are meant to be.
Since joining the Corps, Williams has served in locations around the globe, including Japan and Taiwan, as well as in combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s these experiences Williams draws from when working with the Marines under his charge.
“The Marine Corps is a great place,” Williams said. “It brings together a lot of different people from different backgrounds, and they can help each other develop and learn new things.”
Williams said communicating openly and on a personal level with both the junior and senior Marines in his shop enables him to continue developing and preparing his Marines for the challenges and high expectations of a military lifestyle.
“He has been helping me get ready for some of the upcoming operations,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Bartley, a radio operator with 2nd CEB and a native of Orrick, Mo. “He’s been making sure I know what the danger signs are to look for, so I’ll be ready when I go outside the [base].”
Williams explained that sharing the stories of his own experiences helps him achieve that personal level with his Marines and better relate to the situation they’re facing. The discipline and pride the Marine Corps instills gives him the drive to achieve all he can and help his fellow Marines. He tries to inspire these key traits in his Marines as well.
“I try to motivate them every chance I get,” Williams said. “The Marine Corps is a great place, but sometimes it can be hard to see that as a younger Marine, especially when they deploy for the first time. I try to help them think through all the possibilities and help prepare them for whatever they might encounter.”