HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan —Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Sears is always walking around with a smile as he interacts with the Marines in his unit.
“I joined the Navy because (back home) I was a firefighter and an emergency medical technician, and the area was pretty saturated with people who were trying to do pretty much the same job. I had just had my son, so I needed to get something solid so that I could provide for my family,” said Sears, corpsman, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
Sears says he has enjoyed his time in the Navy so far, but he also enjoyed being a firefighter and EMT.
“I loved it,” Sears, from Dayton, Ohio added. “It gave me a ton of experience before joining the Navy. I knew if I was going to join the Navy, I was going to be a corpsman. Just being a firefighter and EMT exposed me to a lot of different scenarios that definitely carried over to being a corpsman in the Navy.”
Aside from the experience he received, Sears says he also enjoyed other things from his time as a firefighter/EMT.
“I liked the fast pace. Nothing was ever the same,” Sears continued.
When he’s not deployed, Sears enjoys spending time with his wife Brandy and his son Brody.
“I love being a father. It’s awesome,” he said. “Seeing him grow every day, learning and getting bigger is my favorite part about being a father.”
Sears is on his first deployment, and says the hardest part is being away from his family.
“It’s tough. This is the first time that I’ve been away for as long as I have,” he said. “I knew when I joined the Navy I wanted to deploy with the Marines. My wife was really supportive. It’s been rough being gone, but my wife has stayed strong keeping things going at home.”
Since leaving the naval hospital aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to deploy with 1st Bn., 8th Marines, Sears has gotten close with the Marines he is works with.
“The first time we met was back at (29 Palms, California). That’s when he first showed up,” said Cpl. Gregory Sirko, team leader, 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company. “We started getting to know each other then. He was helping me dig a hole when we were in the defense, and we just started talking and getting to know each other on a personal level. I wanted to make him feel comfortable and let him know he was working with a good squad.”
Sirko and Sears have become so close they are planning on being neighbors when they return from their current deployment.
“My wife found a place next to his a few months back, and we decided it’d be cool if we lived next to each other. Our wives talk, and we get along great, so we figured it’d be a good idea.”
Although he has only been in the Navy since April 2010, Sears plans on making it a career.
“My dad did 20 years, so I want to make a career out of it too and make him proud. Plus, it’s something I really like doing,” Sears said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: First Battalion, 8th Marines is a part of Regimental Combat Team 6. RCT-6 falls under 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force 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.