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From Looking After President To Watching Out For Marines
by USMC Lance Cpl. Mark Garcia - May 2, 2012

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MUSA QA'LEH DISTRICT CENTER, Afghanistan (4/25/2012) — When Sgt. Andrew Jender, watch chief for 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, enlisted in the Marine Corps, he envisioned himself becoming an infantryman but he had no idea he would be looking after the president.

April 25, 2012 - When Sgt. Andrew Jender, watch chief for 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, enlisted in the Marine Corps, he envisioned himself becoming an infantryman, he had no idea that decision would allow him look after the president. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Mark Garcia
April 25, 2012 - When Sgt. Andrew Jender, watch chief for 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, enlisted in the Marine Corps, he envisioned himself becoming an infantryman, he had no idea that decision would allow him look after the president. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Mark Garcia

  Three days after his high school graduation during June 2008, Jender was on his way to recruit training. While there, Jender was screened to become a part of the presidential security detail at Camp David.

“I was originally planning to go into the infantry, but they selected me for the presidential security instead,” Jender said. “It was rough at first because I joined to be in the infantry so I wanted to be in the fleet doing infantry things. Now that I look back on it though even though, there were some long days, it was worth it. I got to work with a lot of secret service guys so it was a nice experience to work with civilians in that field. Even though I didn't originally enlist to do that it was still a good experience and I enjoyed my time there.”

Jender was one out of 300 infantry Marines interviewed while in boot camp. To narrow the field they did an extended background check, a written test and then a verbal sit down with first sergeants and sergeants major.

“They ended up narrowing it down to three people from my boot camp company. I originally joined to be in the infantry, but when they picked me for that instead, I decided to give it a go and see how it was,” said Jender.

Jender ended up being stationed at Camp David for two and a half years where he got to meet the president.

“I got to meet the president twice, once when he landed at Camp David. Then when you finish up your tour you get to do a White House meeting in the Oval Office with a guest, so I took my dad and it was a good time,” Jender said. “It was a lot of work looking after the president, especially when his family was with him at Camp David. All the preparation and all the security that has to be put into it so there were some long days and some rough days. But I liked it up there though, it was relaxing and a good experience.”

Jender hasn't decided whether he wants to make a full career out of the Marine Corps but said he wants to further his education either way.

“I haven't decided yet if I'm going to re-enlist, but I've heard a lot of people say you don't really know if your going to re-enlist until the time comes,” Jender said. “My plan right now though is to get out, go to school and try to use my experience to get a job with the secret service or the CIA. If that doesn't work out though I'd like to major in sports medicine and become a physical therapist or personnel trainer.”

Jender said besides missing friends, he misses his family more than anything else.

“I enlisted for my dad and family,” Jender said. “This is my first deployment and they've been so supportive, they've sent me 13 care packages since I've been here. My dad flew to California to drive my car back to Chicago because he knew it would be easier for me. I mean they've been nothing but supportive so I definitely can't wait to see them again when this deployment is over.”

To cope with being away from home, Jender focuses on his job while working 12-hour shifts in the Combat Operations Center and keeps a positive mental attitude. Jender's daily tasks include tracking battalion movements, sending up any reports companies require and working with the Afghan National Army soldiers and interpreters located in the COC.

“If your not paying attention, or your worried about stuff back home, it doesn't do anybody any good, plus everybody out here is missing somebody from back home,” Jender said. “Trying to keep your time occupied is the main thing because dead time is time you spend thinking about home and it gets rough.”

Staff Sgt. Mark Koerner, 29, from Joliet, Ill., assistant operations chief with 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, noted Jender's professionalism in a harsh environment.

“Sgt. Jender is a good guy in every facet, he's very knowledgeable and he's like a sponge. He's a real quick learner,” Koerner said. “He doesn't need any supervision. If you give him a task, he'll get it done for you. He knows how to take care of his Marines. He looks after the younger guys and makes sure they're taken care of. From the start, I've been real impressed with his work ethic. One thing I like about him the most is he continues to keep a good sense of humor. I have no doubt that he'll excel in whatever he decides to do in life.”

Once Jender left Camp David and checked into 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, he was placed in the battalion operations section. Even though he wasn't able to go to a line company doing the things he originally enlisted to do, he still keeps a positive mental mentality.

“It sucks knowing that I have friends out there with line companies that I cant really help,” Jender said. “I work in the battalion section so I hear about everything that's going on so it's hard to listen to everything that's going on and not being able to do anything about it. At the same time though, I'm not the type of person that's going to complain and do my job badly. I figure if they put me here, I'm going to help out everybody the best I can.”

By USMC Lance Cpl. Mark Garcia
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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