MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - Growing up in
Lewiston, Idaho, a small town of about 40,000 people, Sgt. Jacey
Marks always knew he wanted to be a warrior. His family, made up
largely of sailors and naval traditions, always supported the
Marks, who was raised alongside his two sisters,
held the image of the Marine Corps as being a sort of rite of
passage into manhood.
And thus, in June 2004, he began a
journey unlike any other.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jacey A.
Marks, rifleman, stands watch in the Kunar Province, Afghanistan,
October 2005. Courtesy Photo
Before arriving in 2010 with orders in hand to the
Mounted Color Guard, Marks served with 2nd Battalion, 3rd
Marine Regiment in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
by trade, Marks had already completed four deployments.
Barstow was not as structured as Marks'
previous command, and it took a little getting used to.
“It was a large adjustment for me,” said the
28-year-old. “I had been a squad leader with 13 Marines
under my direct charge.”
Marks recalled some of his
trips with the Mounted Color Guard as extremely enjoyable.
On one particular cross-country voyage, Marks dove into the
planning and found familiar territory.
“We went to
support the Marine Corps Marathon and that's on the other
side of the country. You have to plan for hotels, alternate
gas stations, figure out what your budget is, bravo truck,
alpha truck, who's driving, what the rotation is, how much
feed you're going to need ... making a checklist every time
you stop ... that kind of brought back that mission feeling.”
For Marks, the joy and familiarity of planning a
convoy and taking care of Marines returned. It was the same
feeling, he said, just not same sense of urgency.
Many events later, Marks explained being with the MCG
allowed the Marines to interact on a personal level with
small town residents.
In Cody, Wyo., during their
annual stampede rodeo and Independence Day parade, Marks
said the crowd was so silent, he looked over and saw every
man, woman, and child standing.
“Even those in
wheelchairs were standing, kids had their hands over their
hearts. People just stood in awe and were honored to have us
there,” he said.
Before the rodeo began, a young girl
was playing the violin and singing the national anthem.
During her performance, the sound system and speakers went
out. Subsequently, the arena filled with song from the crowd
in the bleachers as they joined the young performer, Marks
“Their passion is huge, it was such a big
moment, and the Mounted Color Guard has a lot of those
moments,” he said.
After having spent a year with
the MCG, Marks moved to the Nebo side of the base, where he
served as the color sergeant for the base, the S-3 chief
working with training, S-4 chief, managing billeting and
logistics for the Marines within the battalion, and a
multitude of other duties within the battalion.
explorer and pioneer by nature, Marks sought out the
opportunity to deploy once again. This time, he spent four
months in Germany as part of a recovery team with the Joint
Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command,
recovering World War II remains.
“It definitely put
history into perspective for me,” he said. For Marks, the
experience personified the concept of ‘Never leave a Marine
His tour in Barstow has made Marks a more
well-rounded Marine, and he said it's been a good transition
that also allowed him more family time.
was like steel hitting the water, and allowing the metal to
cool,” Marks explained. “It was good to see the garrison
side of things.”
Marks has seen a whole other side
to the Corps and said he now has experienced both mental and
physical exhaustion. Although different, the mental strength
it takes to organize pay, orders, working parties, travel ...
administrative work is difficult.
“The infantry is
only ten percent of the spear,” he said, referring to the
popular slogan "tip of the spear." “It won't work if you
don't have the shaft, and that's all the supporting elements
within the Corps.”
Another new experience for Marks
has been working alongside the many civilian Marines that
work day in and day out to support the warfighter.
The civilians take great pride directly supporting their
military, Marks said.
“They have this sense of ‘my
country and my troops,' and it's a bonus to work with such
people,” he said. “As Marines, we have to uphold those high
standards that we're known for; we work around and with
civilian men and women every day. We're in the public eye
more than we think.”
Gunnery Sgt. Dustin Hamilton, a
safety specialist on the base, believes that Marks has not
only molded the junior Marines around him, but also his
“It just shows his all-around character.
He is out of his realm, which is by trade, infantry, yet,
he's still trying to excel. He cares about his Marines ... I
think he's one of the top NCOs here in Barstow.”
Marks has the focused mindset of accomplishing the mission,
regardless of what that mission is, and he tries to get
those around him in that same mindset, said Hamilton.
“He's not in the infantry any more, but he still has
that infantry mindset and he gives meaning to ‘Every Marine
is a rifleman,'” explained Hamilton.
While Marks is
worried if he's left a “good enough impression,” Hamilton
said that's something Marks doesn't have to worry about.
He's mentored and shared his knowledge and experience with
those up and down the rank structure.
“I turn to him
quite often. I've spent my whole career in the air wing and
he's helped me see the other side of the Marine Corps.
That's what a true leader does,” added Hamilton.
often is the case, when not spending time with his own
family, Marks spends even more quality time with his “Marine
“He'll take junior Marines to the Bureau of
Land Management to shoot, and teach them various tactical
positions, shooting tips, and other combat skills they may
find useful,” said Hamilton.
“It's all about sharing
your knowledge,” said Marks. And with that, the young
sergeant leaves one last carefully crafted piece of advice:
“Remember, we crawl through the same mud. Push through all
the bureaucracy, accomplish the mission, and stay out of
By USMC Gunnery Sgt. Reina Barnett
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