News: A day in the life of
Story by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels
USS KEARSARGE - This ‘day in the life of’ feature is the first article in a series showcasing the daily operations of different Marines and sailors assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit during their 2013 deployment, and how their tasks compile to keep the 26th MEU, as a whole, operational.
The first shop to be covered is the 26th MEU command element’s administrative specialists, more commonly referred to as the S-1. The S-1 is composed of seven Marines – six enlisted and one officer.
“The purpose of the S-1 is to provide the commanding officer and the Marines of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force with effective administrative support to include pay and entitlements, promotions, awards programs, preparation of correspondence and messages and orders, career retention, management of the Classified Material Control Center and Directives Control Point, sourcing of combat replacements, reporting of personnel statistics, reporting and tracking casualties, and developing deployment manpower data,” said Gunnery Sgt. Melvin Livermon, 26th MEU administrative chief.
The start of the day for the administrative specialists is an early one, being in the office ready to work by 6 a.m. Having the liability to report the accountability of every Marine and sailor with the 26th MEU affords them the responsibility to be some of the first ones awake, ready to start collecting numbers for morning reports.
“Morning reports are documents we use to record the accountability of all the shops and battalions for the MEU: Combat Logistics Battalion 26, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 Reinforced and our own Command Element,” said Lance Cpl. Roberto Salcedo, a 26th MEU administrative clerk from Los Angeles. “We keep track of them wherever they are, whether they are on ship, out in a foreign country or even back in the States as part of the remain behind element.”
It is required that all shops send reports to the S-1 and give them updates on the movements and accountability of any Marines by 7 a.m. Once the S-1 compiles this information they send it to the S-1 Adjutant, Capt. Meghan Harvey, from Ripley, Ohio, who amongst many other administrative duties, verifies the information adds up correctly and then sends it to the 26th MEU commanding officer.
“Accountability is the responsibility of every Marine and sailor in the MAGTF,” said Harvey. “As the S-1, we consolidate the numbers from each subordinate element in order to provide the commanding officer an accurate picture of where his forces are located. It is important for the commanding officer to have situational awareness of his Marines and sailors’ locations so he can properly employ them in support of the mission.”
With the expeditionary nature of the deployment, Marines and sailors are constantly moving from ship to ship and ship to shore. The Marines in the S-1 have to personally be there to verify accurate accountability whenever Marines arrive or depart.
While constantly keeping account of all the Marines and sailors, Sgt. Michael K. Burns, an Autaugaville, Ala., native, and administrative noncommissioned officer in charge, takes on a few additional responsibilities.
“I take care of the Defense Travel System,” said Burns. “It’s a program that facilitates the travel of military members that are a part of the 26th MEU. I am also in charge of the Improved Award Processing System. With this program I write personal awards for individual Marines.”
On top of all the other work, the S-1 Marines deal with pay and entitlements. Burns said it is their responsibility to make sure the Marines and sailors are receiving the proper pay and entitlements when they are due. Entitlements include increases to pay such as imminent danger pay or separations pay.
Once the Marines are accurately accounted for, it is the duty of the administrative specialists while deployed to organize and distribute MOTOMail among the Marines of the Command Element. MOTOMail gives a way for friends and loved ones to send pictures and letters electronically which are printed out and delivered aboard the ships.
“As administrators, it is our job to ensure the Marines and sailors of the 26th MEU can go to sleep at the end of the day knowing they are receiving proper pay and entitlements, their awards are being tracked and their career progression is being properly documented,” said Livermon.
The 26th MEU operates continuously across the globe, providing the president and unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force. The MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations.