Petty Officer 2nd Class Marlon Best, a religious program specialist with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, writes a thank you letter to the patrons who sent care packages and materials to the battalion here, June 4, 2013. “I handle and distribute care packages and materials throughout the battalion, whether it's on Camp Dwyer, Camp Leatherneck or (Forward Operating Base) Geronimo,” said Best, a 22-year-old native of Cleveland. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mel Johnson)
CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan – Being a religious program specialist in the Navy is an important role filled with many responsibilities—from assisting the chaplains with their daily duties to coordinating different religious services. They also function as bodyguards for chaplains, who are noncombatants.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marlon Best, a 22-year-old native of Cleveland, originally joined the Navy to be a flight crewman, but soon found a different job—religious program specialist.
“I really had my heart set on being a part of a flight crew,” Best said. “But sometimes things happen for the better, and getting the rate of RP was one of those things.”
After receiving orders to a Marine unit, Best attended a course at Field Medical Training Battalion on Camp Lejeune, N.C., to learn the necessary skills and competencies to serve with the Marine Corps.
“Combat Religious Expeditionary Skills Training taught me a lot about Marines and living in the field, but (the School of Infantry) really prepared me the most to bodyguard the chaplain,” Best said.
Now Best is serving in Afghanistan on his first deployment with the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, and said his job is much more than just guarding the chaplain.
“I assist the chaplain with multiple things, the biggest being worship services and Bible studies,” said Best. “I also handle and distribute care packages and materials throughout the battalion, whether it's here on Camp Dwyer, Camp Leatherneck or (Forward Operating Base) Geronimo.”