ABOARD THE USS TARAWA -- Somewhere aboard the USS Tarawa, down a few staircases, around a few nooks and through a few crannies, a sailor sits in a chair at a desk in an office with a sputtering air conditioner. His “GQ” face glistening with sweat, he runs his hands through his thick hair and takes a deep breath. “You’re not gonna get the whole “drugs, guns, ‘the streets are tough’ thing from me.” Petty Officer 3rd Class Pasquale Troisi gets straight to the point.
As a Religious Program Specialist, Troisi has proven himself as an irreplaceable member of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) on land and, currently, at sea in the midst of a Western Pacific deployment.
Troisi, a south Philadelphia native, first entered the Navy as a machinist’s mate. His days as a young Sailor were spent mostly working in the depths of a ship amongst scalding steam valves and the smell of grease and fuel.
“At first it wasn’t that bad,” he claims of his life in “the pit.” Hard work in rough conditions forged a spirit of dedication in Troisi, but the endless repetition of 16-hour workdays and extreme exhaustion took its toll, spawning a sense of urgency to serve himself and the Navy with a higher purpose.
“I felt then that I was made to do something different,” he said.
His desire to serve others before himself, and God above all else, brought him into the realm of his current position, “RP.” Fulfilling his role as an “RP,” Troisi is constantly working his way through the narrow passageways of the USS Tarawa, spreading a good vibe, passing out candy and putting smiles on sea-weary faces.
“I’m lovin’ it,” he said.
His smooth demeanor, coupled with a heavy “Philly streets” accent comes across in any encounter with Troisi. But his neighborly attitude and willingness to help out go far beyond his presence on the ship.
Navy Lt. Edward Waldron, 13th MEU(SOC) command chaplain, is quick to tell you that Troisi is as much of an asset in the office as he is in the passageways.
“He is unbelievably proactive,” explained Waldron. “When I heard he was coming and I asked other chaplains, ‘what’s the deal with Troisi?’ they all told me he was full of energy and I might have trouble keeping up with him,” said Waldron.
“He's been a blessing," said Waldron.
Troisi duties as the “RP” include offering informal counseling services, directing Marines and sailors to the chaplain in times of need, and acting as a personal armed bodyguard for the chaplain. But he chose his profession based on his observation of other RPs.
“I saw what RPs did, and I liked the way they were helping people … It’s a very caring, helping job.”
Knowing Troisi’s strong personal devotion to duty gives Waldron a sense of security, he said. “I’m confident to go to a (combat zone) with him … I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do anything half-way. He is by far the most outstanding sailor I have ever seen come out of the pit.”
Troisi’s strong convictions may possibly stem from his rich Italian heritage, said the chaplain, adding “he recognizes traditions.” Traditions indeed. On the streets of Southern California, Troisi navigates a 2001 Cadillac Coup De Ville, a direct projection of his personality.
“You gotta take pride in your car, man. It represents you,” he began. He could have said in the same sense that one has to take pride in his work and his life. The art of keeping a clean leather interior and polished chrome wheels is a metaphor for Troisi’s desire to carefully manage his personal life. “Live one day at a time, and have a plan.” He serves his car like he serves fellow servicemembers, following through to ensure that they leave his office with a smile. “I never pray for myself, man. I’ve been blessed with too much.” He takes pride in how the wax is evenly distributed over the body of his car, like he presses his uniforms and stops at every mirror he passes to inspect himself. “I’m always checking the mirror, man. You gotta have pride.”
Chaplain Waldron agrees that Troisi’s Cadillac fits his personal image, but also spun the humorous side of the Troisi-car connection. “I just hope I don’t end up in the trunk,” he said with a laugh.
Following his grandfather’s footsteps into the Navy snagged Troisi’s interest at an early age, but simply enjoying family time is what he misses most at sea.
“If I could be anywhere, I would be at my grandparent’s house. Just sittin’ there with the whole family, y’know …” he said, drifting off into a thoughtful pause, “listenin’ to stories … close family, y’know?” drifting off again, and then, “always hanging out with the family, man.”
In the troop living area where Marines and sailors close their eyes and dream, aboard a ship in the middle of an ocean far away from the streets of southern Philly, Pasquale Troisi is doing his unmistakable best to make the world a more pleasant place, one day at a time.
For more information about the warriors of the Fighting 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), visit the unit’s Web site at www.usmc.mil/13thmeu.