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Master Sgt. Douglas L. Webster enjoys each day as a Marine after having undergone successful, corrective open-heart surgery as a child.

Photo by Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

Webster: 20 years later

11 Oct 2006 | Sgt. Robert L. Fisher III

The year is 1986. A military policeman named Sgt. Douglas L. Webster patrols the streets of the Combat Center, keeping them safe. He joined the Marine Corps as an anti-tank assault demolitionist and he graduated from boot camp as honor man. He runs a high first-class physical fitness test score between 270 and 280 and the Air Force rejected him for enlistment because he had open-heart surgery as a child.The arterial septal valves caused a small hole to develop in his heart at birth and it continued to widen through his early life.It wasn’t until Webster’s father, a senior master sergeant who retired after 27 years of service, had Webster re-examined and flown to Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, where he underwent successful, corrective open-heart surgery.Fast forward to today. Master Sgt. Webster still loves the Marine Corps and wouldn’t change anything in his career."I still feel like I’m in my 20’s, but I’m 47 years old. It feels like yesterday," said Webster.He works at Mojave Viper Support Detachment as the assistant operations officer where he processes requests for gear, food, and transportation for the numerous Marines who come through Mojave Viper before deploying to Iraq."The job he does here is about as fast paced as you can ever imagine," said Lt. Col. Dick Penley, operations officer. "In 6 months, he’s supported the training of more than 6,000 Marines."So where was he?Webster got out of the Marines in 1988 and continued working as a Nevada state trooper but later returned in 1990 for the Gulf War. His unit, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, made it as far as Okinawa for their part in the war, where he served under, then, Maj. Douglas M. Stone.He later became a Coyote with Tactical Training Exercise Control Group at the Combat Center in 1996 until 2001 when he went to the Inactive Ready Reserve.Marine Corps Central Command contacted Webster in 2003 to become an advisor in Iraq. They wanted him to train an Iraqi Army battalion and take them into combat.He returned to Iraq as an advisor again in October 2005, but this time with four female officers among their team to train 3,000 Iraqi soldiers."Within our team we had four females that were very much in charge of things," said Webster. "It was an experiment in the use of advisors. For an Iraqi Army unit … to have a woman directing was very unlike their culture, but it worked well. There were some bumps in the road, but it proved an experiment like that could work, at least in certain parts of Iraq."He left Iraq in March 2006 and was placed in G-10, an advisor team awaiting their turn to go to Iraq. In the meanwhile, he works in the operations office for the Mojave Viper Detachment."I still wait for my turn," he said, knocking on wood. "If the call comes, I’m going. If I don’t have to go, I’m just as happy because the family is hoping I don’t have to go."He doesn’t look back with any disdain about refusal by the Air Force. Instead he looks forward to every new day in the Marine Corps with his wife, Linda, and his five children, Angela, Robert, Brianna, Larrera and Amaya.Webster’s life proved that our goals can be reached, although maybe not through a direct route. One may have to "high-crawl" or "jump" to meet their challenges head-on, he said."This branch of service offers so much more on the level of pride than the others," said Webster. "You take the Marine Corps everywhere you go. You can be an average Marine and do well because Marines aren’t average people. The average Marine is above and beyond."
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