13th MEU Ops Clerk Switches Gears

10 Sep 2002 | Sgt. Nathan J. Ferbert

By trade, Mathew G. Pebley is a highly trained automotive specialist, but he's not earning meritorious promotions and Navy and Marine CorpsAchievement Medals for turning wrenches.

The 23-year-old Marine was meritoriously promoted to corporal Sept. 4 for his performance on a meritorious promotion board held by the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit in August.

Pebley earned the promotion and a NMCAM working as an operations clerk with the 13th MEU for more than a year, but how he got that job surprises most people.

Last summer, Pebley graduated from his military occupational specialty school at Camp Johnson, N.C., where he learned how to be a truck mechanic - something he was already adept at.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound Pebley spent two years after high school studying applied automotive science and earning seven out of eight Automotive Service Excellence certificates, which qualify mechanics to work on various automotive systems.

Pebley, a Covington, Wash. native, was sure he wanted to be a mechanic, but he didn't know that he would be doing it for the Marines.

"I didn't even know what the Marine Corps was until about a week before I enlisted," said Pebley, who has blue eyes and light brown hair.  "I called everything that was camouflaged Army.  One of my buddies enlisted, so he suckered me in.  He was my 'boot camp buddy.'"

When Pebley reported to Truck Company, he heard someone talking about an opening to deploy overseas with the 13th MEU as an administration clerk, which he enthusiastically volunteered for. 

However, he had yet to check into Truck Co., part of the 1st Marine Division here and his first assignment in the Fleet Marine Force, so he didn't expect to see orders to the 13th MEU.

To his and, especially, Truck Co.'s surprise, Pebley received orders immediately to the MEU.

Another opportunity for change came Pebley's way after working in the "The Fighting 13th's" admin shop for only two months.

"The S-3 (Operations) was looking for an ops clerk, who performs all the duties of an enlisted Marine Air-Ground Task Force planner, so I raised my hand again and got it."

Without experience in his newest job, Pebley was overwhelmed at first by the language and the missions of the MEU, but it motivated him.

"It was cool stuff to learn," said Pebley.  "The types of things we were planning and executing were what I pictured the Marine Corps to be about before I came in and now it was like 'this is it.'"

As soon as Pebley got to the MEU, the unit began its 6-month workup phase for  Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf deployment 02-1.

Pebley's role as an enlisted MAGTF planner challenges him with troop accountability, systems maintenance, managing data, and building briefs for missions.

In addition to his daily tasks, he assists other staff members in completing their day-to-day missions and odd jobs.

"The hardest thing about my job is working on a staff and assisting others with mission planning, as well as trying to get all my work and responsibilities as a junior Marine taken care of," Pebley explained.

"I don't have a specific instance when (Pebley) did something remarkable, because it was everyday that he helped me and others in our shop," said GySgt. Kevin McCabe, a naval gunfire spotter who worked with Pebley before, during and after the 13th MEU's recent 7-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  "I wouldn't have got through the float without him.  It's amazing that he ever gets his own work done."

McCabe, a 19-year veteran of the Corps and Antrim, N.H. native, described what he believes is Pebley's secret to success.

"He's industrious - to sum him up in one word.  He does the job, does it well, and does more than what you ask of him.  Even when he has nothing to do, he comes over to see if anyone else needs help.  He's willing to learn everyone's job and help them at it. 

"He has a good sense of humor, too, which keeps (us) going," McCabe continued.  "Yet, he stays calm and professional even on the brink of going over the edge from pressure."

Pebley's calm professionalism shined during a 15-day stretch he spent in Bagram, Afghanistan, in March as a liaison ashore to the three ships the MEU was deployed on in the Northern Arabian Sea. 

For his tireless effort in support of the MEU's sorties and air combat missions as part of Combined Joint Task Force Mountain fighting against the Taliban in Eastern Afghanistan, he was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

The 7-month deployment, which took Pebley to Hawaii, Singapore, Kenya, Bahrain, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand and Australia, was eye opening, he said.

"The deployment showed me how big the world really is," Pebley said.  "I met all types of personalities.  The camaraderie of the people I met was great - people from other ships in port, foreigners, locals, everybody."

The 13th MEU returned from deployment in June, but Pebley and the MEU face the workup phase of the next deployment in the coming months. 

Pebley looks forward to completing another successful deployment, changing his primary MOS to an enlisted MAGTF planner and making a career in the Marine Corps. 

His main goal is to earn a bachelor's degree through the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program and stay in the Corps as an infantry officer.

When Pebley takes time out from work, he enjoys time with his new wife, Emily, as well as playing paintball, rugby, snowboarding, mountain biking, 4x4-ing,  golfing, and working on his truck.

Despite not working a day as a mechanic in the FMF, Cpl. Mathew G. Pebley is finding other ways to ensure the 13th MEU's Operations Section is a fine-tuned machine.

13th Marine Expeditionary Unit