CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – There is tangible pride when speaking to the Marines who make up Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). They boast proficiency and professionalism. They are aggressive in attitude and actions. They build, repair, drive, deliver and support the incomprehensibly important infantry Marine in the battlefield.
They are proud, and along with their mission, they have a legacy to live up to.
“The sergeant major and I, and most of the commanding officers and senior enlisted at the company have tried to just build a pride [here],” said Lt. Col. Ralph J. Rizzo, a native of Charlestown, Mass., and the commanding officer of CLB-6.
Respect, discipline, camaraderie and pride played a prominent role in the forming of the battalion and continue to promote the growth of its Marines.
“You can tell people what to do, but if you’ve earned their respect, they’re willing to do it just a little bit harder for you,” Rizzo emphasized. “Respect has to be given down the chain of command, but earned back up. Once a Marine respects you, they will do anything for you. That is the unfailable truth. They will die for you if you’ve earned their respect.”
Discipline is a characteristic valued by the leaders as well as the troops of CLB-6.
“Discipline transcends the ranks as a leadership quality,” Rizzo said, leaning forward over his expansive desk as his voice rose with discernible conviction. “Here in [this] Battalion, the sergeant major and I have tried to adopt that philosophy: always be disciplined and everything else kind of happens from there.
“If a Marine has pride in him or herself, they will always be shaven, they will always wear their uniform correctly. That translates to: they will always make sure the truck is fixed right, the gear is loaded right and stabilized so we don’t lose the load out on the battlefield. We believe in discipline.”
The discipline of the Marines carries over from their large-scale support missions into the seemingly menial daily tasks, translating into fierce determination, driving them to not only complete, but to excel at, every mission.
“We strive for something we can never achieve: perfection. You can’t achieve perfection, but if you settle for good enough, that is the enemy of perfection,” Rizzo stated, becoming silent as he contemplated what exactly he wanted for his Marines and what his goals for his battalion were. He continued on, softer-spoken, but with no less passion in his voice.
“I want us to be a unit that is still telling ourselves that we’re not quite there yet, and that way we won’t settle for good enough,” he said.
Lance Cpl. Elizabeth Scattareggia, an Angier, N.C., native, and CLB-6 senior intelligence analyst concurred, saying “just being the best all the way around, displaying Marine Corps pride and showing pride in our unit, that’s the best thing CLB-6 can do.”
Even with this high standard for excellence and this passion for perfection, this determined unit has no qualms about their role in support of the International Security Assistance Force.
“I tell our Marines every day that we are not the most important Marines in the Corps,” Rizzo said with a slight smirk, recognizing the surprise this statement brings to listener’s faces. “It staggered some spouses when I said that one night. But the infantry Marine is the most important Marine in the Corps. We must feed him, water him, get him his mail, get him his ammunition, and ensure he crosses the line of departure in the attack at the day, date and time he is supposed to. He can only do that if we have done all our work.
“But then I turn around and I tell them they are the most important Marines to their sergeant major and me,” he concluded.
His almost paternal pride manifests itself in Rizzo’s eyes as he continues to speak about his Marines. He talks about how they are hard workers and despite the long hours and hot sun, they are quick with a smile and an ‘oohrah’.
“You can walk this lot and you will see Marines underneath trucks who probably have not had the sun hit their face since we landed here because they spend their entire day on their backs looking up at trucks,” began Rizzo. “How can I have a bad day if I get to sit in here, but the Marines are out there in the sun, sweating every day, fixing the same trucks.”
Rizzo calls his Marines his “center.” If he, in his own words, wakes up on the “wrong side of the CO bed,” all he needs to do is spend some time with his Marines.
“They will always being me back around to center,” Rizzo said.
Bringing it all full circle is the family of CLB-6. The battalion’s family readiness program keeps the loved ones of the warriors informed and supported.
“I believe our family readiness program is one of the strongest my wife and I have ever been involved with in twenty-one years,” Rizzo said matter-of-factly. “If a Marine is concerned about what’s going on back home, their focus isn’t here. Generally, all a Marine wants to know is that their spouse, their loved ones, their children, are taken care of.”
Rizzo concluded his summation of his Marines by saying, “the thing that has impressed me the most, the thing I’m most proud of as the commander, is that we didn’t come in here timid. We didn’t come in here back on our heels … It’s the aggression we came in here with.
“I tell the Marines, let’s not go in like lions and leave like lambs. Let’s leave this place with our last convoy being just as aggressive as our first. You are always remembered for the last thing you did, for how you leave someplace.”
CLB-6 continues to live out its lineage, while leaving a legacy.