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    Dade City, Fla. Marine’s versatility rewarded

    Dade City, Fla. Marine’s versatility rewarded

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Ryan Smith | For his versatility during deployment and strong work ethic, Cpl. Nicholas Cordoba, a...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Ryan Smith 

    Regimental Combat Team 8

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan - Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to young Marines serving in austere environments of Southwest Afghanistan. The ability to adjust on the move is a trait often taking years of experience to master. Whether it was running hundreds of miles of cable or occasionally taking up a machine gun during convoys, one regimental Marine used his versatility and drive to finish his deployment stronger and better than begun.

    For his versatility during deployment and strong work ethic, Cpl. Nicholas Cordoba, a field wireman for Regimental Combat Team 8, received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal as well as title of 2nd Marine Division Marine of the Quarter for 2nd Quarter of 2011.

    “I was surprised,” said Cordoba humbly. “I know I pushed myself hard doing my (Marine Corps Institute classes); everything that needed to be done to make a Marine his best, and I did do that. I wasn’t expecting the Marine of the Quarter. I was expecting…if I push myself a little harder maybe I’ll get a promotion sooner or get noticed. It did work. It’s nice, but it’s a tough job to be a Marine and become a better Marine and build myself the best I can. It’s a good thing to be Marine of the Quarter though.”

    “He exemplifies everything you would want to be in a Marine,” said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Libby, the communications operations chief for RCT-8. “He’s professional and courteous; he does the job to the utmost and makes sure it’s done completely the first time. His professionalism puts him above his peers.”

    Cordoba, a Dade City, Fla. native, was just three months out of his military occupational specialty school when the regiment deployed in January of 2011. He had no experience in his duties other than textbooks and a few chances to practice using equipment he’d use on deployment. Since those early days of deployment, Cordoba has used every moment to learn from new experiences and is eager to pass on his knowledge to the next set of Marines in his charge.

    “We came straight from the school house at (Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.) and three months later we came out here,” said Cordoba. “Pretty much I didn’t know too much but I gained a great deal of experience from being out here and doing my job. Some of our gear is kind of ‘old school’ so the Marine Corps got rid of it…but it’s still here. We have more opportunity to play with that now than when we were at school. Physically knowing how to work the materials is a lot better than not knowing.”

    During his current and first combat deployment to Afghanistan, Cordoba, has been instrumental in providing connectivity throughout the battle space. Many hot, sunny days were spent under buildings searching for shortages or making sure new lines are secured beneath the rocky desert in which Delaram rests.

    “You set new lines for phones. You run cable to the destination where a Marine wants his phone or computer to go. Lay down different fiber lines for different buildings allowing Marines to communicate better than using regular cable. I take care of the call manager which takes care of all of the phones around the base. We take a look into the switches along the way….there’s always plenty of things to do as a wire dog,” said Cordoba with a grin.

    “Since he’s a wire Marine, he knows the switches well; he knows how to troubleshoot for wire,” said Libby, a Mexico, Maine native. “He’s been thrown into some mixes with radio and data and he’s learning (Internet Protocol) schemes. He’s learning as fast as he can around here.”

    The unusually busy days give way to chances to prove his metal, according to Cordoba, a 2009 graduate of Pasco High School. He has been off the base a few times to assist in setting up communications at newer outposts and bases.

    “I went to Shukvani when the Georgian battalion got there,” said Cordoba. “My staff sergeant and I spent days digging paths to lay wire and networking the base communications. It was tiring but it was a great experience to work with the wire from beginning to end.”

    Cordoba, who strives to be a Marine Corps drill instructor, hasn’t spent all his time on base though. He has had a chance to go on many convoy movements and take a turn handling the turret guns on the vehicles.

    “Best experience so far was my first physical convoy,” he said excitedly. “I enjoyed that. I got to be the gunner so I thought it was pretty cool. I never had that experience before. I wasn’t hoping something would happen, but I was definitely prepared. I was alert I know that much.”

    After a few months of wire and convoy duties, Cordoba had the unfortunate task of escorting a fellow Marine to Germany for medical care. This opportunity, though solemn, allowed him to show independence and dependability outside of his standard duties. The independence he displayed convinced his leadership that he was the perfect candidate for a unique assignment.

    He was sent to Kabul to work with a liaison team assisting the Afghan National Army with new recruits as well as sending current soldiers on vacation. He adjusted quickly to his new teammates consisting of personnel from four different countries.

    “We were in charge of escorting ANA soldiers who were going on leave,” said Cordoba. “We had to conduct searches and escort them to the base so they could go home to their families for a short break.”

    Cordoba also had to deal with new ANA recruits from throughout Afghanistan heading to their basic training at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province.

    “We would help process in about 1,500 recruits per week,” said Cordoba. “It was kind of funny to watch some of these guys actually get yelled at and corrected for the first time. It reminded me of my time at boot camp.”

    With his mission in Kabul now complete, Cordoba has returned to Delaram to complete the final weeks of this deployment and soon return home, but still finds time to prepare for the future.

    “I started at American Military University just for the basics: writing, reading and math,” said Cordoba. “I don’t know where I want to go with it. I just knew I needed to start to do better for myself. Mostly, it’s for the Marine Corps and it looks better on my record. My staff sergeant told me ‘you need to stop doing just MCIs and MarineNet, you need to start doing something else.’

    “I figured I was already thinking about college so I might as well go ahead and start,” added Cordoba. I see myself staying in the Marine Corps and work my way up. I do see myself later on trying to become an officer. I want to reach for my goals.”

    So far, Cordoba has been able to achieve his goals of being promoted to his current rank, becoming a green belt in Marine Corps Martial Arts and finishing a successful combat tour.

    “I wanted a (Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal) but didn’t know if I would get one,” said Cordoba. “You have to work hard for it because they don’t just hand them out. I wasn’t stressing it but it is nice to know the work I’ve done has been noticed and appreciated.”



    Date Taken: 12.22.2011
    Date Posted: 12.22.2011 06:17
    Story ID: 81676

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