UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, Southwest Asia -- Reserve service members are known for leading two different lives—some are teachers, fire fighters, police officers or even doctors. However, on the weekends when it’s time to put on the uniform of an Airman, Marine, Soldier or Sailor, these reservists are ready to train.
Across the nation, reserve units keep their troops ready and operating at a high level of proficiency in whatever their military occupational specialty (MOS) may be. After all, they are service members and will need to put their lives on pause to answer their nation’s call to service.
For nearly nine months now, many U.S. Navy Corpsmen have pressed the pause button and temporarily left their civilian lives and jobs to put on the uniform and perform their field duties.
They are currently deployed with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, which focuses on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility (AOR).
The SPMAGTF-CR-CC’s medical element is comprised of both reserve and active duty personnel. The active duty staff comes from units within the I Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Camp Pendleton, California, and other supporting elements of the military installation. The reserve personnel belong to components across the nation. Some of those units come from 4th Marine Logistics Group and 4th Marine Division.
The medical mission for SPMAGTF-CR-CC is to provide medical care for U.S. personnel and coalition partners operating within the AOR. That support may come in the form of medical evacuations, medical augments to coalition forces in the area or routine day-to-day treatment at the aid station.
Reserve medical personnel are spread throughout the AOR, in places like Al Taqaddum and Al Asad air bases in Iraq as well as other undisclosed locations in Southwest Asia.
U.S. Navy Lt. Gregory Downey, an active duty inner care nurse with SPMAGTF-CR-CC, said that working with reservists is no different than with active-duty personnel.
Often times reserve personnel get assigned to deploy with units they have never worked with. They first meet each other during pre-deployment training and have a short amount of time to establish an effective working rhythm.
“From day one, they’ve been incredibly professional and engaged in doing their job the right way, and that is a testament to the reserve unit that they are with, they keep them sharp and honed and ready to deploy,” said Downey. “But on the day-to-day there is no difference, these guys are always ready to go.”
SPMAGTF-CR-CC has nearly 15 reserve corpsmen. In their civilian lives some of them hold jobs that relate to the medical field, such as doctors, nurses and health office managers.
Petty Officer 2nd Class C. Maxwell Eberbach, a hospitalman with SPMAGTF-CR-CC, is a reservist from Jacksonville, Florida. He is a patient care technician for a hospital and has been in the Navy for more than three years.
“It is very interesting going from civilian life to being in the reserves. There are some reservists that have very different lives outside of the military,” said Eberbach. “It’s pretty nice because I get to live a very normal life, very well-structured life, I have a lot freedom, but when it comes to that drill weekend, you jump right back into it.”
Eberbach said that even though his job in the civilian sector relates to what he does in the Navy, many things vary, such as the environment in which he provides care.
Not all reservist corpsmen have medical-related jobs. Among the deployed medical team some are private business owners, one is a computer graphic designer, another is a wedding planner and there’s even have a carpenter.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Marrolleti is also from Jacksonville. He has been a carpenter for three years and has served in the Navy for eight. He spent five years in active duty and deployed to Afghanistan, where he earned a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a “V” device for valor for his actions in combat while serving with 5th Marine Regiment in 2010.
Marrolleti said that working as a carpenter now is nice and he enjoys being a corpsman on the weekends.
“It’s easy to transition back into the role of a corpsman because I’ve been doing it so long, and I enjoy helping junior corpsmen, teaching them what I’ve learned and sharing my experiences,” said Marrolleti. “Sometimes you get a little rusty on certain things like applying an IV and things like that, stuff that if you don’t do it in a while you kind of forget, but it’s just a matter of refreshing your memory and reading up on it and doing it, and it’s just like riding a bicycle.”
Readiness is essential around the MAGTF, and the medical team continues to maintain that level of readiness. Through mass medical evacuation exercises and basic day-to-day training, they remain relevant to the mission spanning 20 nations.