HIT, Iraq -- From the first day of recruit training in the Marine Corps, the doctrine of teamwork is a heavily emphasized concept. On a massive scale, the embodiment of Marine Corps warfighting capability – the Marine Air-Ground Task Force -- is a testament to the success that can be realized when a group of individuals or components work together to accomplish a mission.
On a smaller scale, Marines from Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, are defining teamwork on the front lines of the War on Terrorism at a forward operating base security post here.
Two of the Marines who epitomize Golf Company’s teamwork are Lance Cpls. Travis Vetterkind and Daniel Kohs from 2nd squad, 1st Platoon. Vetterkind and Kohs stand watch at “Post One” here, and are the first line of defense against enemy actions.
“Our normal duties include watching the roads, reporting any suspicious activities and logging in the convoys (going out),” said Kohs. “There’s always someone on the gun and someone with the Vectors (binoculars).”
According to Vetterkind, however, the “normal duties” at the post consume nearly 10 percent of the watch, and conversation is inevitable.
“I don’t even mind coming out here for eight hours,” said Kohs, an Aurora, Ill., native. “I don’t think we ever talk about the same stuff.”
“Yeah, there’s always a childhood story to be dug up,” Vetterkind said.
Vetterkind and Kohs completed their School of Infantry training together, checked into Golf Company together and have been side-by-side for the duration of an ongoing Western Pacific deployment with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable).
Kohs said that having such a detailed history with his comrade is like having a brother; in this case an older brother.
“He’s a bit older than me, so he tells me about his experiences and I learn from it,” Kohs said of the 24-year-old Vetterkind. “But I gotta teach him about the ‘new school’ too,” quipped the 19-year-old.
Like most deployed Marines, the duos conversation topics often lead their way home, a special topic of interest for the two.
“We’re both from the Midwest,” said Vetterkind, “I’m from Thorp, Wisconsin, and he’s from Illinois, so we can relate.”
Personal similarities aside, Vetterkind and Kohs also had their combat experiences together, battling insurgents during Operation Steel Curtain. It was an experience both the Marines say they will never forget.
“In combat we were there looking out for each other,” said Vetterkind.
“The rest of the squad had our backs, too,” Kohs added.
Not surprisingly, the leadership in the unit has had its eye on the two.
Team leader Cpl. David Seitter, a native of Sacramento, Calif., is responsible for the constant well-being of his Marines, ensuring no duty is neglected and no detail is overlooked. Seitter remarked that the professional relationship between Kohs and Vetterkind has been nothing but positive.
“It’s made both of them better, and every Marine needs a best friend,” he said. “Personally and professionally, they push each other to the next level.”
Seitter said he is especially pleased with the friendly competition between the two to reach the next rank.
“These two are setting goals for each other and the friendly competition is taking them a long way,” he said. The constant effort on Kohs’ and Vetterkind’s part is putting the two on a road for success.
“They mentor each other,” said Seitter,” and you see Marines like that usually excel faster than those who act as individuals.”
Seitter recalled his first impression of Kohs, after a bump in the young Marine’s record book left his future uncertain in the leaders’ eyes.
“He got in some trouble, but Vetterkind gave him a ‘nudge,’ and it gave Kohs a lot of confidence. If he would have been on his own, who knows where he would be now,” he said.
The effective teamwork between the two is only a portion of the Marines of 2nd Squad and the ‘family’ atmosphere they promote.
“That’s how we keep it here,” Seitter said, “like a family.”
The professional relationship between Kohs and Vetterkind, combined with the forging of a life-long friendship, is a daily reminder that in the midst of a combat deployment, teamwork goes above and beyond the call of duty – even on Post One.
For more information about the Marines of Golf Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/1, or the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), visit the unit’s Web site at www.usmc.mil/13thmeu.