News: Combat cargo Marines keep it moving
Story by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels
USS KEARSARGE, At Sea – During their 2013 deployment to the Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of responsibility the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit rides aboard ships that make up the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group. They conduct training with various countries in the area while standing guard, ready to respond to a crisis in a moment’s notice.
When and if called upon, the 26th MEU relies heavily on the combat cargo Marines assigned to the each ship. They are the ones responsible for getting everything and everyone off ship in a timely manner. Helping lead the combat cargo Marines aboard the USS Kearsarge, Cpl. Justin Rudisill from Gettysburg, Pa., shines the brightest, taking the lead as their well deck noncommissioned officer in charge.
“We are in charge of moving any piece of gear, food, vehicle or pack,” said Rudisill. “Basically anything that comes on or off the ship, combat cargo is moving it.”
The job of combat cargo is considered a temporary additional duty with no prerequisites in order to be selected. Rudisill said he volunteered for the job knowing his background of a landing support specialist, or “red patcher,” would give him the foundation to help ensure success during his deployment.
“Everything I do in the well deck with the vehicles, like loading the [landing craft, air cushions], I did for my job on the beach,” said Rudisill. “Being a red patcher I am in charge of taking gear on the beach, putting it on the LCAC and sending it to ship. Now, instead of being the guy on the beach and taking it off or putting it on, I am the guy on ship that loads it and sends it back to the beach.”
He said one of the main differences was the space available. The beach is infinitely big when compared to the room in the well deck. They often say working in the well deck is like playing Tetris. You constantly have to move gear and vehicles around in order to get the pieces to fit right.
“Rudisill had experience coming in here doing exactly what we needed him to do for combat cargo,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kacy Ray, a Miami, native. “Being a red patcher he had already been part of [beach operation groups] and [pier offload groups] and other things which are very similar to what we do in the well deck.”
Rudisill said he is going to take the knowledge he has received working in combat cargo and apply it to his job when he returns to Combat Logistics Battalion 26. He said he will be able to load the LCACs at the beach to help the offload in the well deck since he has a better understanding of their operations.
Aside from having previous experience working with the landing force’s operational gear, Rudisill’s work ethic and ability to lead gives the staff noncommissioned officers and officers a Marine they can comfortably rely on.
“If there was one attribute that I would ask for from the NCOs that show up here, it would be that they have leadership experience: it is absolutely vital,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kacy Ray, a Miami, native, and combat cargo officer in charge assigned to the USS Kearsarge. “He has risen to the top. I would say having guys like Rudisill the SNCOs can trust is probably a very comforting relief to them. The Marines we have running the show now are the Marines we know we can count on to make sure everybody stays safe, hydrated and gets everything done.”