News: Florida native creates ties with sea-service brothers on Afghan deployment
Story by Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes
FIRE BASE FIDDLER’S GREEN, Helmand province, Afghanistan — While closing in on high school graduation, Lance Cpl. Mitchell L. Young, a Tampa, Fla., native, made the decision to take life into his own hands and chose a path no one in his family had pursued before.
That path took the 2010 graduate of Walter L. Sickle High School from Tampa to Afghanistan in 12 months, where the field radio operator is creating bonds with his fellow Marines. Bonds, he said, that are much different from anything he’s ever experienced.
Young, whose unit is Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, said he is the first person in his family to join the military, signing up in October 2010 so he could move out from under his parent’s roof.
“I was tired of living off my parents,” said Young, who is 19 years old. “I wanted to show that I can live for myself, and I do not have to rely on other people.”
“He is one of those guys who joined the Marine Corps to change his life and to go to something different,” added Young’s squad leader, Sgt. Romero Garcia. “I’m pretty sure he could have (gone) to college, but he chose to do this instead.”
Young, who is known for his playful and witty nature, had plenty of options, but added he wanted to make a statement by joining the Corps. That statement of independence he wanted to make is repeated everyday he leaves the fire base on a security patrol.
Young’s battery assigned his platoon a provisional infantry mission. He said as a field radio operator, he is his squad’s direct line of communication to leadership while on patrol.
Each member of his squad has a responsibility to pass along information of anything out of the ordinary. Garcia makes the decision whether or not the information is relative to pass to their headquarters. Young, normally in close proximity to Garcia, is always ready to relay whatever message that needs transmitting.
Young also gives his battery headquarters regular situation reports, position reports, or, in the case of an emergency, a medical evacuation report.
“(My job) contributes a lot of different ways. For instance, if there is an injured person out there, obviously I am going to call it in,” Young explained. “I’m going to be the guy who gets the helicopter to the injured person. I’m just giving them all the information that we can see and they can’t.”
Garcia, a native of Polk City, Fla., said Young joined the unit a short time before gearing up for the deployment, but added he is handling his job well.
“He was kind of thrown into security whenever he got to the (unit),” said Garcia, a 2001 graduate of Auburndale High School. “He’s had to learn on the fly.”
Garcia added Young does the right thing and asks a lot of questions, continuously striving to improve his occupational proficiency.
“He goes up to a lot of the corporals and sergeants who are the same (occupation) and gets the answers he needs,” said Garcia. “If those people do not have the answers he needs, he finds a person who does have the answers.”
Garcia said Marines senior to Young have trust in his abilities and he gains confidence as he obtains more knowledge. Young may have confidence, but he is not arrogant about his ability to perform. Garcia added for Young’s age, having confidence while keeping his ego in check says a lot about the young Marine’s character.
Garcia said Young uses his light-hearted attitude and initiative to accomplish any task given, in addition to his normal duties. Collectively, Young’s squad joins in with the humor to make any undesired job or duty fun in nature.
“If he has to do something that is a pain in the neck, he doesn’t complain about it,” said Garcia. “He just does it, gets the job done, and we’re joking about it an hour later.”
Joking around is a normal activity for Young and his squad, and Young gets his fair share of badgering, according to Garcia.
“He can take a joke really well; he can dish it out, but he does catch a lot of flak for being young,” said Garcia, who is 10 years older than Young. “I think we would go crazy if we weren’t always playing jokes on each other.”
The good-hearted nature of the jokes is what mainly adds to Young’s ability to keep his mind focused on his job and the mission. “It always brings up the morale (of the Marines),” Garcia added.
Young said being in the Marine Corps has given him many opportunities to see and do different things, like provide for himself, travel the world, and build life experiences. Being a Marine does not change how he feels for those back home, but creates a new category of family he had not known before.
“I don’t want to say I favor someone over anyone else; you’ll get different experiences with my friends back home and my friends here,” said Young. “There are friends back home who know a lot more (about me) than the Marines here, but I’ve spent countless hours and work time with (the Marines); it is a connection you have with other Marines. You know how they say it is a brotherhood? It really is.”
Editor’s note: Second Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
This work, Florida native creates ties with sea-service brothers on Afghan deployment, by SSgt Earnest J. Barnes, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.