MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Deploying, embedding and ultimately ensuring the safety of the Marines with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, is just the start of what former Gunnery Sgt. Jerome Joseph does for the unit.
Working as the civilian tactical safety officer, he works tirelessly to ensure the Marines are mindful of safety at all times.
“Safety nowadays is a part of everyday life, there are safety measures taken with everything from bottle caps too door widths, and it’s important especially in the Marine Corps because everything Marines do is essentially unsafe,” said Joseph. “So my job is to make Marines as safe as possible while allowing Marines to be as deadly as possible.”
The tactical safety officer’s main responsibilities are to oversee the commander’s safety program per the Marines Corps’ safety order, assist the commander through incorporation of training and risk management into the Marine Corps planning process, and assist the commander with operational safety.
“Being a civilian gives me a different perspective because I work differently than Marines,” added Joseph. “I still know how Marines think because I was one, so I can sometimes put myself in their boots and know when they might need someone other than a Marine to remind them to keep safety a priority.”
Joseph believes that his job benefits all the Marines with 1/3, because it keeps the Marines aware of safety and encourages them to think something over carefully if they believe it might not be safe to do.
“If every Marine is a rifleman, then being a safety officer is a collateral duty,” said Maj. William Matory, the executive officer for 1/3. “Being able to have someone like Jerome in our unit ensures that someone is primarily focused on safety 100 percent of the time which is helpful for our unit.”
Matory added, it is in our nature as Marine to put ourselves in harm’s way and safety is often mistaken for not fighting or training hard enough. As Marines, we need to learn to operate right up to the edge of the envelope. It needs to be to the point where we are about to be a danger to ourselves but realize it and take a step back before we do more harm than good.
Joseph claims his continued success as a tactical safety officer is, in no small part, thanks to the support he receives from the unit leadership.
1/3 is currently training in the desert of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., where Joseph’s watchful eye once again ensured the safety of the Marines participating.
Joseph added, “Hazards and risks never sleep … so why should I?”