IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, Djibouti -- Life is anything but easy for Easy Company, 2d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), which is here in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.
Renamed "Easy Company" July 1 by battalion commander Lt. Col. W. Lee Miller, Jr. to honor the legacy and heroism of the Marines at the battle of Tarawa, part of the company is carrying on the battalion "Warlord" tradition in the arid, African desert here, according to 1st Sgt. Ronald P. Andryshak, company first sergeant.
"We have a platoon reinforced," said Andryshak, of Goshen, N.Y. "Reinforced means we have BLT (Battalion Landing Team) assets with us such as engineers from 2d Combat Engineer Battalion, a Javelin section from Weapons Company and a sniper team, also from Weapons Company."
Even though the Marines of the platoon have various jobs, the mission remains the same.
On Christmas day, Lance Cpls. Jeremy S. Endsley and Fernando Mota, who are both mortarmen, were standing guard.
Large rocks, prickly trees and some wildlife are interspersed throughout the barren landscape where the Marines are working.
"I've seen a lot of camels since we've been out here. Lots and lots," said Deltona, Fla., native Mota with a chuckle.
Endsley, of Kansas City, Mo., added, "Some people get bothered by spending the holidays out in a place like this, but I don't mind so much because I'm proud to be doing something to protect America's freedoms."
The Marines' responsibilities include conducting security patrols. That's where the combat engineers come into play, according to Sgt. Anthony W. Gotwalt, squad leader.
"We help during patrols. If mines are encountered, we can sweep for them and clear the area," he explained. Although the threat of mines is limited, there is still the chance of encountering remnants of rebel uprisings that occurred in the early 90's.
When the 24th MEU (SOC) was training in Kosovo a few months ago, the combat engineers had a bit of scare.
"When we were sweeping for mines in Kosovo, we used a metal detector that was sensitive to any kind of metal," said Gotwalt. "We came across something that we thought was a mine, but it turned out to be just be a coffee can."
Gotwalt, who hails from York, Penn., said that incident proved how seriously the Marines take their job.
"It's sometimes a tedious job, but we have to make sure the infantry and follow on forces can get through to the assault objective," explained Gotwalt.
If the Marines on patrol ever encounter an enemy vehicle, Sgt. Chad M. Witowski and his fellow hard-chargers can lend a hand.
Witowski is a Javelin weapon system gunner. In fact, he was the first Marine to fire the system on the east coast .
"The Javelin was designed to take out things like tanks. It's an awesome system," said the El Paso, Ill., native.
The Javelin system has a maximum range of 2,500 meters. The key feature of Javelin is the use of fire-and-forget technology that enables the gunner to fire and immediately take cover. Additionaly, special features include the top attack or direct fire mode (for targets under cover), integrated day/night sight, advanced tandem warheads, imaging infrared seeker, target lock-on before launch and soft launch. Javelin can be fired safely from enclosures and covered fighting positions, according to an article on http://www.defensedaily.com.
Luckily, no hostile forces have been encountered, but if they are, the warriors from Easy Co. will be ready.
"I trust any of the Marines out here when it comes down to it," said Andryshak. "It doesn't matter if he's a private or a captain because I know with the utmost confidence that they will do their jobs. They are well trained."