CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
He hails from the southern tip of Texas, where warm weather radiates and sun-kissed residents roam the subtropical City of Palms. All he wanted was to broaden his horizons and fulfill his father’s dream of becoming a service member; he never expected to earn the prestigious title of Marine of the Quarter.
McAllen, Texas, native Lance Cpl. Ivan Salinas does his best to represent his community well and recently earned Marine of the Quarter for Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), for the months of April, May and June.
Salinas spent his high school years at Nikki Rowe High School studying hard and plucking away at the strings of his favorite guitar. It wasn’t long before a Marine Corps recruiter contacted him and offered him an alternate route in his pursuit of a college degree in psychology.
He decided to take the opportunity and left for recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego after graduating high school in December 2008. Salinas now finds himself deployed to Afghanistan just a couple years later.
“I’m excited to be here,” said Salinas. “This is what it’s all about. It’s a really neat position to be in because you get to see how all the pieces of the puzzle come together.”
Salinas works as a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner for 2nd MarDiv (Fwd), a billet normally filled by a noncommissioned officer, and is responsible for planning and coordinating unit movements in order to successfully complete their missions.
“When you look at the whole job, you’re pretty much the one deploying all these people,” explained Salinas. “Every single number that you send up to be reviewed is actually a human that you’re moving into and out of the area of operations.”
Staff Sgt. Gary Koss, the MAGTF planner chief for 2nd MarDiv (Fwd) said Salinas is an outstanding Marine and feels he definitely deserves Marine of the Quarter recognition.
“He’s already proved he can fill an NCO billet,” said Koss. “I think that alone should be enough, but he also works tirelessly to ensure timely movement of units into Afghanistan and improve his knowledge on the subject.”
Salinas has been instrumental in the control and accountability of more than 2,000 Marines and Sailors and their gear. That’s more than 100 flights going in and out of Afghanistan carrying around 88,000 pounds of cargo.
“He’s a (standout) Marine who is capable of taking on the responsibilities of the force deployment officer and force deployment chief (in our) absence,” explained Koss.
Salinas earned his selection as the top junior Marine in the battalion among the 70 other young Marines in the unit. The top caliber Marines from this group competed for the accolade in a board. For the select few Marines given this opportunity, it is a chance to be rewarded for all the hard work put into the Marine Corps and their duties. “I’m just going to keep doing what I do,” said Salinas. “The fact that my work out here was noticed is a pretty good feeling, but regardless, it won’t stop me from doing my job the best I can on a daily basis.”