News: Nebraska Reserve Marine keeps Afghans safe
Story by Sgt. John Jackson
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – For the past six months, Sgt. Matthew Branch has been responsible for providing security for Afghan truck drivers while they deliver fuel to forward operating bases in northern Helmand province, Afghanistan.
While he and his Marines have successfully accomplished this mission, the job is a change of pace for the Kearney, Neb., native.
Branch is the assistant security team leader for 2nd Platoon, General Support Motor Transport Company, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.2, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward); however, while not forward deployed, he is a Marine Corps reservist attached to 4th Engineer Maintenance Company in Omaha, Neb.
When in Nebraska, Branch is accustomed to arriving at work at 6 a.m. and leaving around 3 p.m. Additionally, ensuring the enemy does not affect his mission or harm Afghan drivers is not in his everyday job description.
Branch is a maintenance technician at a clothing distribution center in Nebraska. Fixing broken down equipment is his specialty, but deploying in support of Marine Corps operations is something Branch has become proficient at as well.
“This is my third deployment,” said Branch, 29. “I love to deploy. I like to be engaged with what the Marine Corps is doing.”
During his current deployment, Branch has been responsible for getting fuel and other supplies to Marines stationed throughout Helmand province.
“Our mission is to safely and expediently transport combat essential gear and fuel to the Marines and service members throughout the [area of operations],” Branch said. “Our platoon has completed more than a dozen missions, and we have been very successful at getting our job accomplished.”
In addition to making sure fuel and equipment is delivered safely, Branch and his Marines also interact and work with local civilians.
“There is a language barrier, but it was definitely a unique experience,” said Branch. “It gave us all a great insight and a great way to experience the locals’ culture.”
GSMT Co. is wrapping up their seven-month deployment, and the Marines will soon be headed back to the U.S. Branch is looking forward to getting back to Nebraska to be with his family but believes his time in Afghanistan was a worthy accomplishment.
“I am ready to get in some good quality time with my wife and daughter,” said Branch. “My wife is a very proud Marine Corps wife, and she is very supportive.
“This deployment has been a success. Any mission that was asked of the Marines, they got done and excelled at. We kept our convoys safe, the local nationals safe and got our missions completed.”