BARSTOW, Calif. - Members of scout sniper platoons possess a unique set of skills and abilities to perform their duties. They must remain calm and collected, be able to operate in teams of four to six Marines, and have the patience to see the mission through.
As a professionally instructed gunman, Sgt. Moises ‘The Don’ Machuca acquired these traits and skills while working with 3rd battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, weapons company, scout sniper platoon, April 2012 through October 2013.
Little did he know, his next assigned duty station would call on those same fundamental skills; though while a sniper’s goal is to remain unseen, this next station put him in the spotlight.
As of November 4th, 2013, Machuca has been a stableman of the last remaining United States Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, stationed on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif.
Machuca, a 0311 rifleman by trade, explained the transition from life in an infantry unit to stableman took some adjusting.
“There was obvious culture shock … but (Machuca) brings a new, livelier atmosphere (to the stables),” said Sgt. Edgar Torrealba, noncommissioned officer in charge of the MCG and fellow infantryman. “He is actively engaged and seeks (further) knowledge in everything we do.”
“It's a different everyday routine,” explained Machuca. “I went from having to worry about maintaining a weapons system, to worrying about the life of a thousand-pound living creature. Instead of training out in the field with a weapons company, I’m training to ride on horseback (with the Mounted Color Guard).”
Checking into MCLB Barstow as a stableman was the first time he had ridden a horse, said Machuca. However, it was the same fundamental skills he had honed with the sniper platoon that assisted in the development of his horsemanship.
“He has approached his horsemanship training with the respect and patience the skill deserves,” explained Torrealba.
Machuca takes his training step by step, Torrealba added. He does his best to work with the horses; not against them. Everyone learns at a different pace; and Machuca understands that being patient, calm, and collected is the key to successfully developing this skill.
Horsemanship however, isn't the only skill being developed, explained Machuca. His administrative skills are also being put to the test.
There are a lot of moving parts to manage in the MCG, the La Farie, TX native added. Event request folders, government vehicles, and travel plans are all things that need to be managed properly in order to accomplish the mission.
However, from administrative challenges to remaining calm on horseback in front of thousands of spectators at special events, Machuca continuously applies prior training to get the mission accomplished; whether that mission is combat related or horsemanship.
“Ultimately, I feel blessed,” said Machuca. “Being a part of the only remaining Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard is a rare opportunity.”
With this opportunity, he hopes to bring great pride and credit to the MCG and the Marine Corps as a whole, said Machuca. In doing so, he hopes to honor the Marines who serve with him, came before him, and gave their lives in service to their country and Corps.