marines special operations command

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Marines with Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) and 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion (2nd LAAD) conducting a live fire training exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on June 6, 2017. Marines with MARSOC worked with 2nd LAAD to conduct live fire exercises to maintain proficiency and accuracy with various weapon systems. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Cody J. Ohira)

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“Everybody’s been doing this job for a long time, there’s really no reason for me to tell them what to do. It’s fast paced, it’s aggressive, it’s not something you could be timid at.”

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Master Chief by Marines
Via Flickr:
A Marine Special Operations School student maintains security during Field Training Exercise Raider Spirit, May 2, 2017, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. For the first time, U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Airmen spent three months in Marine Special Operations Command’s initial Marine Raider training pipeline, representing efforts to build joint mindsets across special operations forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

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MARSOC Corpsman receives Silver Star.

Major Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, presents Petty Officer 2nd Class Alejandro Salabarria the Silver Star Medal during a ceremony at Stone Bay aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C. Salabarria was awarded for his actions in Afghanistan Sept. 15, 2014.

(Photo and article by Sergeant Lia Gamato, 5 FEB 2016.)

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Petty Officer 2nd Class Alejandro Salabarria, a corpsman with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Raider Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, was awarded the Silver Star Medal during a ceremony at Stone Bay aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 5, for his actions in Afghanistan.

Salabarria, a Miami native, joined the Navy in December 2008 with the full intention of becoming a corpsman serving at an infantry unit. However, his first orders directed him to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.

Unfazed, Salabarria decided to take control of his future service as a corpsman, taking an interest in special operations. He attended the Basic Reconnaissance School and Army Basic Airborne School, then received orders to 3d Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. While preparing for deployment with Scout Sniper Platoon, Salabarria jumped on the opportunity to attend the Special Operations Combat Medic Course in Fort Bragg, N.C. Upon graduation, he received orders to 2nd MRB.

“From all of his training, he was basically a junior (Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman), which was exactly what we needed on the team,” said a critical skills operator with Marine Special Operations Team 8214, Marine Special Operations Company F.

Salabarria checked into the team in 2013 and, from the start, he set himself apart.

“Most corpsmen stay in their bubble … but Sal was always the guy who wanted to go out and be a CSO before he was a corpsman,” said a critical skills operator. “Which was great because it’s hard to instill that aggressiveness in someone.”

In June 2014, the team deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was nearing the end of their deployment, on Sept. 15, 2014, that the team was caught by enemy fire.

“We were headed to the (landing zone), and what caught my eye was that off to my right there was one guy praying. No one else was praying, just this one individual,” said the CSO. “Didn’t think anything of it.”

The team was dropped off on the LZ and split into two groups for the flight, one team staging to the north, the other to the south. Because aircraft wasn’t expected to land for several hours, the teams took a tactical pause to adjust their gear. It wasn’t until dark settled over the LZ that they came under attack.

“It’s funny that I heard (it) because we were a fair good distance away, but it was clear as day. I heard, ‘What the (expletive),’ and it almost sounded like a flash bang went off, and then just rapid fire,” said the CSO.

A rogue shooter had fired an M203 round into the LZ before circling around firing off an automatic weapon into the groups of gathered Raiders and commandos.

“I immediately hit the deck, I thought Sal is right next to me. He wasn’t,” said the CSO. “I don’t think he even hit the ground, I think he just ran.”

Salabarria had grabbed his medical kit and taken off running toward the center of the LZ where someone was yelling in pain. He explained that the only thing visible were muzzle flashes and the outlines of people, so he followed the cries for help. Salabarria first came across the foreign interpreter who then directed him to the team SARC. The senior medic had been struck by rapid fire in his arm and leg, shattering the upper part of his shin bone.

“I checked him over real quick, and that’s when I noticed that we were directly getting shot at,” said Salabarria. “At that point, I laid on top of (the team SARC), told him not to move, and I shot at (the shooter) until he went down.”

“Stories go, that other commandos were shooting, that our guys were shooting,” said the CSO. “But from my perspective, it was a gunfight between two people.”

For his “bold initiative, undaunted courage, and complete dedication to duty,” Maj Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, presented Salabarria with the Silver Star Medal. He was joined by Surgeon General Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, and teammates from 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.

“I think anybody on that team, given the opportunity, would have done the same thing. It just happened to be me that did it,” said Salabarria.

Sergeant Charles Strong lost his life during this attack. His family attended the ceremony as guests of honor, along with the family of Capt. Stanford H. Shaw III, who was a part of the “Raider 7” lost in March 2015, in a helicopter crash off the coast of Florida. Shaw was the officer who first submitted Salabarria for the award.

“(This medal) is more for Capt. Shaw and Sgt. Strong than anything,” said Salabarria. “It’s all for them.”

USMC Sergeant Charles C. Strong. 15 SEP 2014.
Died in Herat Province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered in an insider attack. Strong was assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, out of Camp Lejeune, NC.

Honoring Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford, who perished July 29, 2012, in Bagdhis province, Afghanistan, fighting to his last breath in an enemy ambush.

According to a recent report by the Marine Corps Times, when a group of Afghan special forces soldiers came under enemy fire, Gifford, a team chief assigned to Marine Special Operations Command, jumped onto an all-terrain vehicle and sped 800 meters to their aid, administering first aid and moving the wounded to an evacuation zone, under enemy fire all the while.

He then returned across that 800-meter stretch of unprotected terrain to defend another group of Afghan commandos.

He killed an insurgent who was firing from a window, scaled a building full of Taliban fighters and dropped a fragmentation grenade down the chimney, and continued to engage the enemy before falling to enemy fire.

For his bravery and sacrifice, Gifford was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for gallantry in combat on June 17, 2014.

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John Paxton presented the award to Gunny Gifford’s family in a ceremony at MARSOC Headquarters aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

(taskandpurpose.com)
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SOLDIER STORIES: Celebrating the life of a Viking Raider.

The battlefield cross for fallen Raiders was displayed at the Celebration of Life ceremony remembering retired Master Sgt. Eden M. Pearl, at the Base Theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 19, 2016. Master Sergeant Eden M. Pearl deployed with Fox Company, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, to Herat Province, Afghanistan, in 2009. His identification tags will be added to those of other fallen Raiders and displayed at U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command headquarters building aboard Stone Bay, N.C.

(Combat images are courtesy photos dated MAY 2009. Other photos by Sergeant Donovan Lee, 19 FEB 2016. Article by Sergeant Lia Gamero, 19 FEB 2016.)

During a Celebration of Life ceremony, family, friends and fellow Raiders gathered to honor the life and legacy of retired Master Sgt. Eden M. Pearl, at the Base Theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 19, 2016. Master Sgt. Pearl succumbed to his wounds on Dec. 20, 2015, more than six years after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device while deployed to Herat Province, Afghanistan in 2009.

“He was one of those guys the Marines tell stories about in the Marine Corps, so I couldn’t wait to meet (him)” said Phillip Noblin, who met Pearl in 2002, when Pearl was his team leader at 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “Just off the stories, I had built up this picture of this battle-ax swinging Viking of a beast of a man.”

By 2002, Pearl had already built himself a reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the reconnaissance community. He had deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, completed Amphibious Reconnaissance School, Scout Sniper School, and the Rigid-hull Inflatable Boat Coxswain’s Course.

“He was a very consummate professional, and commanded respect everywhere he went,” said Noblin, who described Pearl as a leader who always took the time to teach and train younger Marines. “(On his team) you always wanted to make sure you did the right thing because Eden was your team leader and you didn’t want to let him down.”

Pearl completed four more deployments with II MEF, in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom I and Iraqi Freedom II. It was shortly before his fifth deployment that Pearl was introduced to his wife, Alicia, a U.S. Navy corpsman stationed in Virginia. After a long-distance relationship, the two received orders to deploy with the same unit, but two months from deployment, Alicia found out she was expecting.

“He had a plan, to be together for some time, engaged for some time,” said Alicia, “but we both knew we were right for each other and we wanted to be together, so he was just so excited when he found out.”

The couple married days before his deployment and their daughter was born just two weeks before his return in 2005.

“(She) was his joy,” said Don Hoemann, long-time friend of Pearl. “He had this carrier that he bragged about continuously and did so much in-depth research on, and he’d carry her absolutely everywhere. He’d be up to his knees in muck, and she’d be on his back, hiking with him.”

In April 2005, Pearl then received orders to 2nd Special Operations Training Group, Special Missions Branch, as a Dynamic Assault/Entry Instructor.

“(When I arrived) Eden was kind of in charge over there, which was funny because on paper there was probably a (gunnery sergeant) over him,” said Noblin, founder of Brothers in Arms Foundation. “But he had that about him, you could be in a room with majors and captains, but if Eden was talking they were listening. He was the guy who had been there and knew all the skills, and at the time, that was with only 10 years in.”

Pearl was with the Special Missions Branch in 2006 when the unit was reassigned and re-designated at Marine Special Operations School (MSOS), U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. At MSOS, Pearl was assigned as Lead Instructor and was integral in the development of the Individual Training Course (ITC).

An explosive ordinance disposal technician with 3rd Marine Raider Support Battalion, who met Pearl in 2006 described Pearl as a very intense individual.

“His reputation as a recon Marine was already legendary with all of us, so in a way it was hard not to be in some kind of ‘awe’ when you first met the guy,” said the EOD tech. In 2008, he was assigned to Marine Special Operations Team 8211, Fox Company, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, with Pearl as his team chief.
“Eden was (the team’s) anchor, our go-to guy with anything,” said the EOD tech. “We all would have followed him anywhere because we knew without a doubt that he would do the same for any of us.”

In 2009, MSOT 8211 deployed to Herat Province, Afghanistan. While on a routine convoy, Pearl’s team was ambushed and an IED was detonated directly under his vehicle. Two service members were ejected from the vehicle and survived, three others, including Pearl, were caught inside. Pearl was the only service member from inside the vehicle to survive.

“I don’t pray often, but that night I prayed it wasn’t one of our vehicles, and more specifically not his,” said the EOD tech. “As you can imagine, the entire team was caught pretty off guard to that kind of a blow; having that anchor, brother, leader and friend taken from you.”

Pearl suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 97 percent of his body. He was medically evacuated from country and only days later to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he underwent multiple surgeries and skin grafts. After a couple of months, Pearl had a severe stroke that put him into a temporary vegetative state, but after 16 months he was transferred to a facility in Florida, that catered to his cognitive care needs.

In 2013, the Brothers in Arms Foundation, together with the Gary Sinise Foundation, helped build a home in San Antonio that was accessible to care for Pearl in a home setting.

“I don’t think most people would have survived those initial injuries to begin with and the fact that he made it out of (Brook Army Medical Center) after 16 months is amazing, and the fact that he was even able to come home and spend more time with us here, is kind of miraculous,” said Alicia. “He truly was an incredible man, father and husband.”

Pearl’s wounds and recovery not only led to the development of multiple medicines but also several procedures that will help future burn victims. His survival was the leading factor for the Brothers in Arms foundation, which continues to support wounded and fallen special operations Marines. Alicia and Hoemann attribute his survival to his ceaseless warrior spirit.
“(Eden) was the epitome of a fighter, he was not going to give up,” said Hoemann. “Even with family and work it wasn’t an option to give up and not give 110 percent. He fought every day … for what he thought was best for his Marines and his family.”

Pearl was retired in September 2014, where he continued to live in San Antonio with his family, until his passing on Dec. 20, 2015. He is survived by his wife Alicia, daughter Avery, and a community of Raiders with an example to live up to.

“I only wish that more guys coming up through MARSOC could have been influenced by him,” said the EOD tech. “(Eden) was a full package deal that could do it all. I will never forget the moments that I had with him, to know him, and have the honor to work beside him.”

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Night Raid

Marine Raiders with 1st Marine Raider Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, transition out of the water during a simulated underwater assault force night-raid in Los Angeles, California, Sept. 3, 2015. Training such as this is conducted to meet Special Operations Forces dive requirements and to enhance the understanding, planning and operational considerations when working in a joint operational environment with both special operations and conventional Marine Corps forces. 1st Marine Raider Battalion is organized, trained and equipped to deploy for worldwide missions as directed by MARSOC in support of their regionally-aligned Theater Special Operations Command. (U.S. Marine Corps Photos by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier/Released)

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Smoking Gun by Marines
Via Flickr:
Marine Special Operations School Individual Training Course students fire an M249 squad automatic weapon during night-fire training April 13, 2017, at Camp Lejeune. For the first time, U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Airmen spent three months in Marine Special Operations Command’s initial Marine Raider training pipeline, representing efforts to build joint mindsets across special operations forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

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Reconnaissance Marines

The Marine Recon we know today dates back to the W.W.II. Before 1944 the Marine Recon were primarily scout/sniper units. In April 1944 a two company amphibious reconnaissance battalion were formed. They started operating with UDT (Underwater Demolition Team), to conduct beach reconnaissance and hydrographic survey.The Marine Recon along with UDT reconned for the landings at Iwo Jima in 1945.

During the war in Korea the Marine Recon and UDT did a series of raids on Korea’s east coast, destroying railroad tunnels and bridges. At a time the Marine Recon operated 200 miles behind enemy lines. In 1951 the Marine Recon made the first helicopter assault in the Marine Corps history.

When the marines landed in Vietnam in 1965, the Marine Recon were there to support their respective Units. In Vietnam the Marine Recon conducted deep and distant reconnaissance patrols. They mostly operated in seven-man teams performing the so called ‘Stingray’ operations. The last marines left Vietnam in 1971.

During the 1970s and 1980s the Marine Recon went through some changes. 23-man deep reconnaissance platoons were created to compensate for the reducement of the Marine Recon after the Vietnam War. The basic Recon teams were still the four-man teams. When the hostage recovery program was started in 1976 with federal law enforcement agencies and the Army Special Forces, some of the Marine Recon units were assigned to Direct Action missions. In 1977, snipers were again a part of the marine units.

In October 1983 the Marine Recon took part in the invasion of Grenada, and in 1989 they went into Panama in Operation ‘Just Cause’. In 1990 Marine Recon was deployed in the Gulf. Here they scouted the front lines of the Iraqi forces. They found ways through enemy lines for the marine invasion. Prior to the ground war the Marine Recon took 238 prisoners.

NOTE: The Marine Recon is not a part of SOCOM (Special Operation Command).

Stationed: 
Active Duty:
Divison Recon Company-1st Marine Division Camp Pendleton California 1st Force Recon Company, 1st SRIG, Camp Pendleton, California 2nd Recon Battalion-Camp Lejuene North Carolina(2nd Force Recon Company is now part of this unit) Division Recon Company-3rd Marine Division, Camp Butler, Okinawa Japan 5th Force Recon Company, Camp Butler, Okinawa Japan
Reserve:
3rd Force Recon Company, Mobile Alabama 4th Force Recon Company, Reno Nevada and Oahu Hawaii 4th Reconnaissance Battalion-San Antonio Texas, Billings Montana, Albuquerque New Mexico, and Anchorage Alaska.

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K-9

A U.S. Marine Corps canine with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) awaits instruction from its handler during a MV-22B Osprey exercise on Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 4, 2016. MARSOC specializes in direct action, special reconnaissance and foreign internal defense and has also been directed to conduct counter-terrorism, and information operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler S. Dietrich, MCIWEST-MCB CamPen Combat Camera/Released)

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command personnel with 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion conduct Direct Action training Oct. 25, 2014, here, during RAVEN 15-01, a 10-day exercise to enhance readiness for worldwide deployment in support of global contingencies. During the exercise, the Marines participated in a range of training including Direct Action, Special Reconnaissance, Security Force Assistance, Counterterrorism, Counterinsurgency, and Foreign Internal Defense. (Official Marine Corps photo by Capt. Barry Morris/released)

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Sparks

A Critical Skills Operator with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command uses a saw to cut through a metal door to gain entry on a building during Marine Special Operation School’s Master Breacher’s Course, at Stone Bay aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 20, 2015.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier / Released)

Security

Marine Raiders with 1st Marine Raider Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, provides security while conducting a simulated night-raid on a warehouse in Los Angeles, California, Sept. 3, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Scott A. Achtemeier / Released)

WAITING

Jul 28, 2014

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - A Special Operations Officer (SOO) with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command awaits the signal from the jump master, before exiting the aircraft to conduct a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) training exercise. Marine officers graduating MARSOC’s Individual Training Course will be assigned a new Primary Military Occupational Specialty, clearing the way for retention and promotion in a professional career path.