A Figurehead In Small Unit Leadership
(October 3, 2010)
|FORT A.P. HILL, Va. (MCN - 9/29/2010) — “All you can do is
take life by the wheel and steer toward the enemy,” Lance
Cpl. Ryan A. McCauley said confidently as he took a knee.
With one deployment under his belt, the 23-year old is
gearing up for his second trip to Afghanistan, ready to take
on all obstacles in his way.|
Growing up in the streets of Pittsburgh, McCauley
wanted more out of life. His passion for greatness
motivated him to develop his work ethic and, like
every child, he had aspirations of being a super
hero, a valiant figure in the neighborhood that
fought crime and made the community a better place.
“I lived in a really good area growing up; I really
enjoyed my childhood,” he said with a look that
seemed to take him back to his younger days. “I
always wanted to grow up and be someone heroic. A
lot of my friends were police officers. I thought
that was very admirable of them, so I asked myself,
‘what I can do to contribute to my community?'”
McCauley wanted to challenge himself to the fullest
and take the
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. - Lance Cpl. Ryan A. McCauley kneels with weapon ready, flanked by members of his team at range 6N, here,
on Sept. 17, 2010. As a team leader with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, McCauley takes the initiative to keep his Marines motivated by testing their knowledge and discipline.
fight to the enemy. He began training at an early
age by wrestling and playing football throughout
“My cousin was in the Marine Corps back in 2005. He went
oversees to Iraq and I was like wow, I'm going to buckle up
and go for a ride too. My family is over there fighting, so
I'm going too.”|
McCauley took a few years to study criminal justice at a
local community college, but knew he was being called for a
higher purpose. In 2007, at 20 years old, he enlisted in the
United States Marine Corps.
His initial reaction to boot camp was one of silent
realization. Having seen movies like “Full Metal Jacket” to
help prepare for the experience, he recognized that just how
physically and mentally demanding this new life would be. He
quickly held a new appreciation for the men and women who
already held the title of United States Marine.
After graduating boot camp, he went on to get training as a
machine gunner and was immediately taken aback by the amount
of knowledge needed to be successful.
“I remember going to school to become a machine gunner, I
thought it was pretty cool,” he said with a slight smile.
“Little did I know how much information there was about
machine guns. It is imperative that Marines know their
knowledge. Anytime on the battlefield you could freeze up.
The more repetition there is; the more you can develop the
skill. It is crucial that you know your job and how to
execute the mission.”
It is this proactive attitude, repetitive nature, and
knowledge of the job field that has garnered him the respect
of his junior Marines and earned him the title of a small
“It was all because of the Marines who trained me,” he said
modestly. “They said to me, “you need to understand the
nomenclature of a machine gun because if something goes
down, you need to know what's wrong with it so you can
repair it and suppress the enemy.”
It is this exact mentality that possibly saved his life last
year while in Afghanistan. While part of a five-man
reconnaissance patrol down in a river valley, he was
ambushed and had to rely on his training to get himself, and
the Marines with him, out alive.
“We don't know how many there were,” he said, drifting back
into his memories. “There could have been three there could
have been 30. We just fought our way out. We had support by
fire on the ridgeline about 100 yards back when we got the
call to push back. All of a sudden my gut feeling told me to
turn around. When I did, I saw one of my good buddies pinned
down under fire. I had a squad automatic weapon, so I ran
back there, dropped to a knee and just suppressed the fire
and he got out of there. We all got out of there safe that
day. That's one of those stories I'll never forget for the
rest of my life.”
Having accompanied McCauley to Afghanistan and presently
acting as his section leader, Sgt. Robb M. Wilges can attest
to McCauley's leadership abilities.
“He has a lot of motivation and is a good team leader; he is
focused and knowledgeable of his job,” Wilges said.
McCauley is now charged with using his wealth of experience
to teach the four Marines under his care the importance and
seriousness of their job.
“This is for real now; take what you know and use it,” he
said. “Learn as much as you can about your occupation and
how it can benefit someone else's job. Ask as many questions
as you can. If you ever question yourself then go for it,
the worst thing that could happen is you end up being wrong
and you learn from it.”
Preparing for his second deployment to Afghanistan with
Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment;
McCauley leaves his junior Marines with his thoughts on
becoming a good leader.
“Make mistakes as a junior Marine and learn from them,” he
said. “Have a good attitude and the ability to improvise,
that, in my opinion, is what makes a good leader.”
Article and photo by LCpl. Jeff Drew|
2nd Marine Division
Marine Corps News
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