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3rd Plt., 'C' Co., 1st Tank Bn., get chance to 'see the world'

(This article appeared in the June 18, 1999 issue of the Observation Post, the base newspaper for Twentynine Palms, California.)

1stLt Jason D. Grose
1st Tank Bn Adjutant

For many decades, Marine recruiters have promised young men and women a chance to “see the world” and on June 4th, 3rd platoon, C Co., 1st Tank Bn returned from doing just that. Led by 1stLt  David Olson, the platoon spent the last six months touring the world from the jungles of Africa to the sands of Kuwait.

Attached the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC),  Olson, 18 tankers, and one corpsman boarded the Harper’s Ferry on only her second deployment and steamed out to sea from San Diego on December 5, 1998.

Their first stop was to conduct infantry training in the lush paradise of  Hawaii for two days. Passing by the legendary island of Iwo Jima at Christmas, the tankers reached Hong Kong just in time to celebrate the New Year celebration and a couple of days of liberty.

Continuing on their journey, the platoon arrived in Singapore on January 6th where they had an opportunity to conduct training in both Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) and jungle patrolling before setting sail for Phuket, Thailand.

The platoon’s schedule initially allowed five days of liberty in Phuket but suddenly, they were recalled for an unscheduled, operational contingency in Africa. On January 25th, Olson and his men arrived in Mombasa, Kenya. Leaving their tanks behind, the tankers grabbed M16s and proved that a Marine’s primary mission is as a rifleman, regardless of his MOS. Olson’s tankers were assigned as a security element for a humanitarian assistance effort. The tankers set up a perimeter defense while MSSG-13 handed out medical supplies from a local clinic. Working with both Kenyan Military Police and civilian police from Mombasa, the tankers ensured the safety of the medical personnel for five days.

When asked if they encountered any situations during the defensive operation, Olson said, “One day many of the local inhabitants started gathering near our perimeter. We thought there might be trouble as the numbers grew so we stepped up our alert status.” But due to the Marines’ presence, the crowd never turned violent and the clinic continued to dispense the much-needed medical supplies.

With their humanitarian assistance mission successfully completed, the tankers once again boarded the Harper’s Ferry and arrived in Kuwait on March 4th. Unloading their tanks, the platoon honed their tanking skills by executing a CAX-like evolution on the Udairi Range until April 3rd. They once again set sail to the Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and after enjoying a much-deserved five days of liberty, the platoon continued their world tour by making stops in Bali, Indonesia, Mackay, Australia, and Hawaii before returning the Camp Pendleton on June 4th.

“We had a great deployment,” comments Olson, “We got a chance to do infantry training, a real-world humanitarian assistance mission outside our primary MOS, as well as solid tank training in Kuwait.”

When asked about the liberty they had, Olson says, “Liberty was definitely plentiful but the training our close-knit group of tankers completed was the main benefit. We left with eight LCPLs, eight CPLS, and two SGTS. We returned with three LCPLs, ten CPLS, and four SGTs.”

Along with Olson, the other members of the platoon included:

GYSGT Carlos Graham
SGT Justin Bull*
SGT Jesse Christenberry*
SGT Cesar Fort
SGT Daniel Pinkerton
CPL Daniel Formella*
CPL Christopher Gunnels
CPL Nicholas Jones
CPL Ralph Mason
CPL Ryan O’Neil*
CPL Rodolfo Ramirez
CPL Eric Saucedo*
CPL Carlos Torresbaron*
CPL Leonel Verduzco*
CPL Franko Westry*
LCPL Cipriano Redhouse
LCPL Jose Velasquez
LCPL Ryan Ware
HM3 Jose Bojorquez

*Promoted while on deployment

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