NEAR KARMAH, Iraq --
Three Marines from Denver found a common ground to build upon as they served in a twelve-man infantry squad in Iraq.
Out of the 11 Marines from 1st squad, 3rd platoon, Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, the three are from the greater Denver metropolitan area. Their bond has become stronger after realizing they were all recruited from the same sub-station, Metro East, and two of the three had the same recruiter.
Although they are all from the same area, they never met each other until joining BLT 3/1.
The squad leader, Sgt. Tim C. Tardif, a Highlands Ranch High School graduate, is the firm leader of the group. In terms of the usual squad leader, he is easy going and patient with his Marines. However, the four-time Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran expects a lot from his young Marines no matter where they’re from.
“When we first get the new Marines from the School of Infantry we have sort of a draft,” said Tardif. “And when I saw that Drewbell and Enriquez were from the Denver area, naturally they were my first round picks.”
The tie that binds these Marines was evident from the very beginning. The Marines talked about common experiences and places they knew of while growing up in the “Mile-High” city. They all love the Denver Broncos, which is enough to keep the bitterest enemies on friendly terms.
“Not only are they good people, but they’re good Marines and well disciplined,” said Tardif, who puts his two fellow Coloradoans in the top three of his squad.
“The quality of Marines who enlist out of RSS Metro East is very high,” said Staff Sgt. Lawrence W. Watters, canvassing recruiter for RSS Metro East. “We don’t let them settle for the bare minimum. We push them to strive for the best.”
The second of the three is Lance Cpl. Ian P. Drewbell, an automatic rifleman for 1st squad, who sometimes connects the most obscure actors to Kevin Bacon in between patrols. He joined the Marine Corps to pursue his interest in helicopters, but decided on a different route.
“I joined the Marine Corps to become a helicopter crew chief,” said the Eagle Crest High School graduate. “But then I realized that being a grunt it what the Marines are all about-- and I still get to fly in helicopters.”
Drewbell continued by saying that despite a few surprises, his first enlistment is everything he had hoped for. While he hasn’t decided on whether or not to reenlist he plans on being a helicopter pilot in the future.
Lastly, Lance Cpl. Taylor L. Enriquez, rifleman and 1st squad radio operator, graduated from Cherry Creek High School in 2003. He’s the character of the trio and has the ability to keep his buddies in stitches during any situation. When it comes to mission accomplishment, however, he is all business.
“We all come from the same area,” said Enriquez. “And out here we have the same goal, (which is making sure) everyone gets home alive.”
Enriquez’s goals are simple-- he wants to have a successful tour, go to college and thrive in whatever he does in life.
According to Watters, high-quality Marines come from the Denver-area recruiting offices because recruiters challenge potential recruits and instill in them a sense of pride and belonging.