CAMP LEATHERNECK, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Afghanistan – The brown-eyed, caramel-skinned Marine works seemingly endless hours to ensure the Marines she supports have what they need to accomplish their mission. Her days spent in the Afghan heat, which can reach more than 110 degrees, consist of maintaining accountability for gear and equipment stored on the supply lot, issuing items to sections, mastering mechanical equipment, interacting with many different personalities, and hours of clerical work. The hard work and unstoppable drive she demonstrates daily are her investment toward a lifelong dream.
Cpl. Gabriela Diaz of Seattle is wrapping up her deployment to Afghanistan as the warehouse chief for Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), where she has spent the last seven months gaining experience to achieve her goal of becoming a nurse.
Most Marines who visit the unit’s supply lot will find a smiling face greeting them as they enter the lot’s office tent. Diaz prides herself on providing the best service possible to her fellow Marines when supplying them with the gear or equipment they need.
Her position comes with a laundry list of responsibilities she’s more than willingly accepted and executed with enthusiasm, but Diaz said her favorite part is being able to help all the friendly faces she meets.
“I always love helping people,” said the Seattle Seahawks fan. “This is my first deployment, and meeting all these new people and seeing them leave satisfied was my favorite part of the deployment.”
Diaz is in charge of millions of dollars worth of gear she must process, inventory, and distribute to the appropriate sections. She supplies an array of items from office supplies and furniture to necessary uniform items to help Marines successfully execute their missions.
Nearly 2,000 supply orders have been successfully processed under her charge. That’s thousands of items and millions of dollars worth of essential gear she’s helped provide to her unit in the seven-month deployment.
“It’s been a good experience, and it was definitely worth it,” explained Diaz with a grin. “I was able to accomplish a lot out here, and I think I set it up for the next guy to easily come in and know where everything is at.”
The job comes with a lot of responsibility according to 2nd Lt. John Suschak, the former Logistics officer for Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), who is also headed home. The Cleveland native said it’s a lot for one person to handle, but Diaz did a great job.
“She did an outstanding job at always keeping accountability of everything and getting everything the sections ordered to them in a timely fashion,” said Suschak. “With a battalion-sized unit of more than 600 Marines, she’s been running that lot all by herself and done a great job.”
As her deployment comes to a close, she must focus on her next step in life. Diaz’s goal of one day becoming a nurse isn’t far from reach and this deployment, according to her, brought her that much closer.
“This deployment gave me time to really think about what I wanted to do with my life,” explained Diaz.
She also said everything she has learned as a Marine will help her pursue the career in nursing she dreams of, and she hopes to be able to prepare for college upon returning back to the United States.
Nurses are known for their natural desire to help people and often find themselves having to multi-task to take care of patients and assist doctors. Similarly, Diaz has been helping Marines with all their supply needs throughout her enlistment and has spent the last seven months multi-tasking clerical and manual work to maintain the supply lot.
“She definitely had to provide a lot of customer service out here, and she dealt really well with people and is very detail oriented,” said Suschak.
Diaz said she will be looking to the future when she returns later this month to meet the requirements to become a nurse, but she said every character trait she has honed in the Marine Corps will help her achieve that goal.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to try my hand at nursing,” said Diaz. “I also had a desire growing up to join the military, and there was no question I wanted to join the Marines. The experience has taught me a lot, and I know it’s going to help me in the future.”
Editor’s Note: The battalion is currently assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward). The division heads Task Force Leatherneck, which 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.
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This work, Seattle Marine trades desert uniform for scrubs, by Sgt Marco Mancha, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.