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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Marines more than family; warriors

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | January 7, 2008

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Most Marines face the challenge of leaving their immediate families behind when they deploy. That is not the case for three 4th Supply Battalion Marines.

  Cpls. Dohel Ortiz Jr., 25, Shayla Ortiz, 26, and Lance Cpl. Geraldo Ortiz, 23, all warehousemen with Detachment 2, Supply Company, 4th Supply Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, departed Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany for Camp Pendleton, Calif., Saturday.

  The Ortiz’, who are among 22 Marine Corps reservists to volunteer for the upcoming deployment, will conduct 4-6 weeks of on-the-job training at Camp Pendleton, Calif., before going to Iraq.

  When the unit asked for volunteers, Lance Cpl. Ortiz, Dohel’s brother and a 2002 graduate of Columbia High School in Lake City, Fla., was the first to volunteer.

  “I volunteered for the deployment because as a Marine I feel it is my duty,” said Lance Cpl. Ortiz who is currently taking two online courses in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Florida while deployed.

  After careful deliberation and because of Lance Cpl. Ortiz’s motivation, both corporals who are married to each other, volunteered.

  “We are all very competitive,” Shayla said. “Dohel said if he was going, we should go too. As a brother, he wants to have his brother’s back and I want to have my husband’s back. We are a family and we want to take care of each other. If one goes, we all go and fight together.”

  The couple’s decision came while working the Marine Corps half marathon in Jacksonville, Fla.

  “I wasn’t surprised when I found out we were deploying together because we Ortiz’ are pretty motivated Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Ortiz, a Marine Corps reservist for three years. “I felt good about the whole thing because we work very well together and we each bring out the best in each other.”

  This will be the Ortiz’ first time deploying to a combat theater together. In 2005 they deployed to Okinawa for their two week annual training.

  In December, they conducted their pre-deployment training at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. There they completed their Block 1 and 2 training which consisted of firing the M16 A2 service rifle and swim qualifications and other annual training requirements before going on active duty.

  Dohel worked as a sales consultant for a construction staffing company in Jacksonville, Fla., but gave up his job in mid-October to go on active duty. Since then he and his wife have been working together preparing for the deployment.

  “It is surreal, this opportunity having my wife and brother experiencing something like this together. Yet, it will make the deployment easier,” said Dohel who has been in the Marine Corps Reserve for five years. “It is something we will experience as a family and being able to talk about it, knowing our objective, will help us prepare for the deployment.”

  The 2001 graduate of Columbia High School also said that being together will help continue to strengthen their relationship as a family and as Marines, bringing positive change mentally, physically and spiritually.

  Shayla, a 1999 graduate of Branford High School in Branford, Fla., said she was delighted to know her family will be experiencing the same situation as she.

  “I felt excited about deploying with my husband and brother-in-law to Iraq because we will be able to pass on the legacy and stories as a family tradition” said Shayla, a reservist for three years.

  Shayla was an insurance adjuster in Jacksonville, Fla., before volunteering for the deployment.

  The Ortiz’ agree that deploying as a family will come with its own set of challenges which include keeping personal and professional feelings separate.

  “We keep everything we do at a professional level. We separate work from pleasure,” Shayla said. “When we put this uniform on we know there is a task to do, that there is a job for all of us to do.”

  Shayla also said she thinks the leadership at Detachment 2 has been so supportive of them because they don’t use family as an excuse.

  “When he tells me what to do, I forget about everything we fought about or the things we discuss and focus on the job at hand,” she said. “If we have issues, whether it is good or bad, we put them to the side and do what we have to do to get the job done.”

  “Everyone will be watching us over there,” Dohel said. “We have to hold true to the Corps’ values and the things that the Marine Corps expect from every one of us. As Marines, we have to set the example and instill discipline because we have a mission that has to be accomplished. We will do everything in our power to do that.”

  When they arrive in Iraq, it is unknown if they will be working and living together on the same base.

  According to Dohel it would be nice, however understanding the challenges it may present for other Marines or service members, he thinks it will be good for them to work in different sections.

  Shayla agreed saying, “By working in different sections in Iraq, we are more likely to reach our full potential than when your spouse is around.”Both corporals stressed that because they are married and in Iraq together that they don’t want to create any animosity among the single Marines or take the focus away from why they are there.

  “We want to keep everything we do at a professional level. We are both Marines and NCO’s (noncommissioned officers) and we know we have a job to do,” said Dohel.

  This will be the first real-world deployment for the Ortiz’s.

  Dohel stated that having family with him on this deployment is a unique opportunity.

  “Just being able to say we did this together is an amazing thing,” Dohel said. “It will be something that we will be able to pass on to our children.”

  Lance Cpl Ortiz said, “I feel that if I go on this deployment that I walk-the-walk and not just talk about it. I have actually done something about it.”

  Maj. Margaret Weitzel, officer-in-charge of the deploymenting Marines, said she was not surprised that the Ortiz family volunteered to go.

  “I am honored to know these three motivated Marines – the Ortiz’. They have volunteered to serve our warfighters in Iraq, together. Their positive attitude and professional demeanor is what distinguishes them from the pack,” Weitzel said. “They truly understand our Corps’ tenants of honor – courage – commitment. It is sometimes challenging to find the right individuals to augment the active duty units. The Ortiz family will represent reserve Marines in a way that brings credit to our efforts. They will distinguish themselves in their duties abroad. They are the cream of the crop.”

  According to Maj. Kerry K. Mengelkoch, officer-in-charge of Detachment 2, she is proud of all her Marines, but the Ortiz family’s situation is certainly unique.

  “They are true professionals who exemplify the bond and commitment that Marines have for one another and the Marine Corps,” Mengelkoch said. “We train the way we fight, and these Marines have trained together for the majority of their Marine Corps careers, so now they are deploying together and will, no doubt, serve our country well. I know that as they challenge, look out for, and bolster one another, they are committed to doing the same for the Marines they serve with in Iraq.”

  Upon their return to the United States, all three Ortiz’ plan to continue their tradition of serving as a family by becoming officers in the Marine Corps.

  “I am very proud of my children and their decision to join the Marine Corps,” said Dohel Ortiz Sr., father of Dohel and Geraldo. “I appreciate the sacrifice they are making for our country.”

  He also said as a father he is naturally concerned and worried about the safety and the welfare of them all.

  “I just put my faith in God, that he will bring not only Dohel, Geraldo and Shayla home safe, but all of those who serve,” he said.


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