CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Jan. 4, 2012 – Three years ago,
Staff Sgt. James Pribyl, then a Marine Corps recruiter, met Ernest
Wetzel at a public library in Wetzel's hometown of Woodstock, Conn.
December 12, 2011 - Marine Corps Staff
Sgt. James Pribyl, right, and Marine Corps Cpl. Ernest Wetzel work
together in Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 at Camp Leatherneck,
Afghanistan. Pribyl recruited Wetzel into the Marine Corps. U.S.
Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones
“I was the new recruiter in town,” said Pribyl, who was based in
Worcester, Mass. “About three months after we met, he decided to
Now deployed to Afghanistan's Helmand province, Pribyl
works alongside the young man he helped to become a Marine.
“I never expected to see him again – it's hysterical,” said Wetzel,
now a corporal. “I've said it multiple times: ‘Damn, I'm in a combat
zone with my recruiter.'”
Both Marines serve with Marine Wing
Support Squadron 371, deployed from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma,
Ariz., which provides aviation ground support for coalition aircraft
operating in southwestern Afghanistan.
“It's one of the
reasons I joined -- to deploy. I just never expected it'd be with
him,” said Wetzel, who works as a maintenance management specialist
Wetzel's duties with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371
include ensuring a steady supply of parts for the squadron's
heavy equipment platoon. The platoon does everything from
moving cargo to constructing helicopter landing zones.
“I'm the first enlisted Marine in my family,” said
Wetzel, a 2008 graduate of Woodstock Academy in Connecticut.
“I met Staff Sergeant Pribyl and he didn't lie to me. He set
me up with a good job.”
Pribyl, the squadron's supply
administration and operations chief, and a native of
Centerport, N.Y., is responsible for making sure assets are
ordered and received in a timely manner. This means Pribyl
and Wetzel work closely together in a field Pribyl helped
the young Marine get in to.
“Supply and [maintenance
management] work hand in hand, so I had a lot of friends who
were [maintenance management], and I knew he would do well
there,” Pribyl said. “He wanted the military. It was just a
matter of convincing him that the Marine Corps was the
“It didn't take long for that,” Wetzel said.
Wetzel described Pribyl as a mentor to him in
Afghanistan, but the staff sergeant spoke highly of the
young corporal, as well.
“I knew he was going to be a
good Marine,” Pribyl said. “I've always said it. I always
By USMC Cpl. Brian Adam Jones
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
American Forces Press Service
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