MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Maintaining safe conditions is always a priority in the Marine Corps, especially when live rounds are fired downrange.
Whether on the pistol or rifle range, Marines must abide by the four weapons safety rules that have been ingrained in their memory since boot camp.
Although it is the responsibility of the individual Marine to maintain safe conditions, one Marine ensures they do so: the range safety officer.
With radio in hand and a gold eagle, globe and anchor attached to his cover to signify that he is the RSO, Sgt. Alexander Mobley paces the firing line. He assists Marines with proper technique for firing a pistol, but looking a little further would reveal more than just an RSO.
The RSO billet is usually held by staff noncommissioned officers, however, Mobley, in the eyes of his chain of command at the range, is the right Marine for the job.
Mobley, a DeRidder, La., native, joined the Marine Corps in May 2000 at 18 years of age. His father, a retired first sergeant in the United States Army, along with military family members swayed him to enter the military life.
"My original job was an 1812-tank crewman," said Mobley. He arrived in Twentynine Palms on Dec. 14, 2001, where he was assigned to 1st Tank Battalion. He deployed with them three times.
"The first time I deployed with 1st Tanks was on a float with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit," said Mobley. "The second time was for the initial push when everyone went to Kuwait. The last time I went to Iraq was in February of 2004 with 1st Tanks, Bravo Company, and in August of 2004 I got shot."
Mobley and his unit sustained sniper fire while at the Clover Leaf in Fallujah, where he suffered a shot that penetrated his arm and side and lodged into his stomach cavity.
"I personally had to get off the tank, get back to the grunts, get on a vehicle and be rushed back to Bravo Surgical," said Mobley. "I was able to get up and do it all by myself. I was bleeding a lot, and it was a little bit of a worry about me passing out, but I got out on my own and I got there, while the rest of 1st Tanks, Bravo Company took care of the enemy threat."
Mobley received care at a medical facility run by Bravo Surgical Company, 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group. While recovering from his gunshot wounds, the second-highest ranking officer in the Department of Defense, Gen. Peter Pace, personally awarded Mobley a Purple Heart medal.
Mobley, who left 1st Tanks in January, says his job as an RSO is just as fulfilling.
"As a tanker we’re an armored threat to the bad guy and an armored friend to the good guy," said Mobley. "Tanks are what I loved, but my current job is fulfilling on multiple levels. Being an RSO, I make sure everyone is in a safe condition. When we get someone who has never shot the pistol, I get the chance to teach them fundamentals."
Co-workers of Mobley’s agree that he enjoys his job and is good at what he does.
"Sgt. Mobley is someone you want working for you for sure," said Staff Sgt. Brea Witt, rifle line staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "He’s a very capable Marine and can get anything done. He is always seeking ways to improve himself or his skills. If he gets bored, he learns someone else’s job."
Mobley sees his future in the Marine Corps taking him to the drill field, but in the meantime safety is his main priority.