Backbone of Alpha Company

9 Mar 2015 | Lance Cpl. Gunnar Andersen Marine Barracks

In the past I’ve written stories about the junior enlisted men of Alpha Company, but this story is about  the platoon sergeants who serve as the backbone of A Co., Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.  

As I witness the company’s sergeants and staff sergeants working with young Marines, I can see a mission in their faces.

It is not just the mission of the Marine Corps, but it is their own mission.  I see that they possess similar motivations for joining the Marine Corps, shared fleet experiences, and the common thread of determination needed to make formidable Marines out of their A Co. platoon members.

The platoon sergeant for first platoon, "Aces Wild,” in A Co. is Staff Sgt. Daniel P. Robert.  He enlisted out of south Philadelphia in 2002 but hails from Holyoke, Mass.  

When asked, Robert simply stated that he joined the Corps in order to turn a troubled youth into a better person.  

He admits that he wasn’t on the best track as a young man and believed that the Marine Corps would help to guide him toward a more purposeful and wholesome future.  

After completing the Marine Corps East pipeline, Robert received orders to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.  He did four deployments with 3/3, including an attachment to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and a deployment to Jalalabad, Afghanistan  as well as Barwanah and Karmah, Iraq.  

Robert’s time at 3/3 lasted from 2003 to 2008. He received two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, one with valor.  

After his fourth deployment, Robert completed and stayed on as an instructor at Sergeant’s Course.  After his time as an instructor, he received orders to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines in Camp Pendleton, Calif.  During his three years in 3/5, he had two deployments overseas.  He travelled to Sangin, Afghanistan where he received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V device and another deployment on the 15th MEU.  

Staff Sgt. Robert completed several courses and lateral training events, some in which he was the honor graduate. 

In 2013, the Corps called Robert to the Nation’s Capitol to lead junior Marines at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., and to fulfil a very important and ceremonial commitment to honor our fallen brothers and sisters.  

This exemplary Marine enjoys volunteering, making rosters, and long sunrise runs with junior Marines to the Iwo Jima War Memorial.

Another senior devil dog at the Barracks is Sgt. Jonathon W. Patrick.  He is proud to be a born-and-raised Virginian from Roanoke. He joined the Marine Corps for several reasons, which all revolve around patriotism.  

Patrick’s grandfather served in World War II during the valiant storming of the beaches at Normandy, and his stepfather served in the Army during the Vietnam War.  

“I knew at a young age I wanted to join the military, and I always thought I would become an Army soldier because of my bloodline that served before me,” said Patrick.  “It wasn’t until I hit high school when I knew that it was the Marine Corps that was my calling in life.”  

After completing infantry training, Patrick was stationed at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. from 2009 to 2011, where he displayed exceptional military leadership and quickly rose through the ranks.  

He quickly became a squad leader and went on to complete the Infantry Squad Leader’s Course, where he graduated as the honor graduate.

Patrick pinned on corporal and shortly thereafter left D.C. with a head full of knowledge and orders to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in Camp Pendleton, Calif.  

Since no course can fully prepare one for the fleet, he credits much of his success to the noncommissioned officers that were stationed at his new unit.  

“They were so welcoming to me,” said Patrick. “Even though we were all corporals, I still didn’t have the experience they had, but they helped me with that.”  

During his time at 2/5 from 2011 to 2013, Patrick completed one deployment to Afghanistan.  This experience provided him with a unique understanding of the comradery and brotherhood that exists in the Marine Corps. He gained valuable insight as to the greatness of our country and the true mission of our Marine Corps. 

Upon completion of his first deployment, Sgt. Patrick received a phone call from the “Oldest Post”, calling on him to re-enlist, because the Barracks needed staff NCOs. 

Patrick empowered junior Marines  as a corporal platoon guide and now as a platoon sergeant for the “Earth Pigs,”  of A Co.

Staff Sgt. Berton D. Chambers, out of Lake Veio, Ore., is the current platoon sergeant for the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.  His charisma and highly motivated attitude are hard to miss.  

The senior enlisted war dog was in the delayed-entry program for a year and was a wild-lands fire fighter before enlisting.

Ultimately he was tired of living off of meager means.

“I wanted to get paid to shoot  things and blow things up,” said Chambers. “The Marine Corps had that to offer.”  

This West Coast Marine was first stationed at 1st Battalion, 3d Marines in Hawaii and completed three separate tours overseas.  While at 1/3 he served in Fallujah, Iraq; then Kunar, Afghanistan and then back to Iraq from 2008 to 2011. 

After his time in 1/3, he was sent to the School of Infantry West to serve as an instructor at a Marine Combat Training Company.

Chambers then moved on to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines from 2011 to 2013, where he did another deployment on the 15th MEU and completed Winter Mountain Leaders Course at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif.

By mid-September, 2013, Chambers received orders to Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. where he was originally the platoon sergeant for first platoon, A Co. 

With a growing rate of new senior NCO leadership, Chambers became the platoon sergeant for the Silent Drill Platoon. He went through the rigorous process of becoming meritoriously selected for gunnery sergeant, and will pick up in May 2015.  

“I can’t credit my success on one single Marine or one single act, but simply on just Marines taking care of Marines,” said Chambers. “My leaders took care of me, and I took care of my Marines.”

These three platoon sergeants honor their country and the Marine Corps by providing the young Marines at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. fine examples to follow.  This commitment and dedication from the backbone of Alpha Company inspires Marines to take care of Marines.  Semper Fidelis!