FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico – Since there is only one Marine Corps unit located on the island of Puerto Rico, the Marines of Det. 1 Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 45, 4th Marine Logistics Group don’t get the chance to interact with other Marines often. But this weekend that changed. The Reserve Marines of LS Co. held their first combined drill weekend at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, Jan. 24 - 25, 2014. The LS Co. Marines located at Hunter Army Airfield base in Savannah, Ga., traveled to Puerto Rico to work with their counterparts in Det. 1, LS Co. stationed at Fort Buchanan. To integrate the 55 Savannah Marines and the 60 Puerto Rican Marines, they were mixed and split between two groups to enhance unit cohesion. One of the two groups started their drill weekend with the opportunity to relax and socialize during a tour of the Castillo de San Cristobal, a Spanish fort in San Juan. “It’s always great to have the opportunity to take off the uniform and get to know your fellow Marines on a more personal level,” said Lance Cpl. Allan-Michael Nelson, a LS specialist. “It promotes better morale and breaks up the monotony.”
Several Marines, including Sgt. Jesus Aviles, the senior enlisted advisor for Det. 1, felt it was at this point junior Marines could really get to know their leaders as people, not just a rank.During the tour, Marines from both locations were interacting like they had known each other much longer than since one training event in Savannah last year. Although the Marines have different backgrounds, some preferring Spanish over English, the Marines were joking, discussing the landscape and taking group pictures in front of the coastline. “It gives everyone a chance to see each other outside the work environment when they are having fun and being relaxed,” said Sgt. Darrell Haight, a motor transport heavy equipment operator. While half the Marines enjoyed the first day touring the fort and surrounding city, the others were receiving valuable Military Occupational Specialty training as they got to know each other. “Marines are getting valuable hands on training similar to conditions in an actual deployment,” said Aviles. Marines received training on packing and securing pallets of supplies, loading and unloading pallets with the use of a forklift, how to find the center mass of vehicles and how to properly pack parachutes.
“It’s a good time to see how they work down here,” said Nelson. “We can take something from them and they can take something from us.” Having the whole unit together is very important, said Sgt. Elvin Riverarodriquez, the platoon sergeant of Det. 1. The training allowed the Marines to start building relationships on a personal level so when they deploy together, they can perform better. “Right now we’re not two different units,” said Aviles. “We’re just one unit.” By making the unit one, this drill weekend had major benefits according to Haight and Aviles. “I think it’s huge because it creates better relations amongst both units,” said Haight. “We have more resources now, an insight to different cultures and lifestyles; and better camaraderie with fellow Marines is huge for mission accomplishment.” While the Savannah Marines gained valuable training by experiencing a new environment, according to Sgt. Dana Kent, the platoon sergeant of LS Co., Riverarodriguez said the Marines of Puerto Rico gained an insight to different leadership styles from a similar unit. Both platoon sergeants from Savannah and Puerto Rico agreed the drill was significant in bringing the unit together and building stronger morale and unit cohesion. “It’s been a great time,” said Nelson. “I hope we get to have more of these in the future.”