I’m originally from Manchester, Conn., and I’m 29
years old. I’m married but no children. I have a Doberman, who is
like my son, I guess.
I joined the Marine Corps in December 2002, went to boot camp at
Parris Island, S.C. Then I went to
the School of Infantry at Camp
Lejeune, N.C., and graduated as an
After that, I went to Security Forces School in Chesapeake, Va., and
my first duty station was Naval
Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., from
September 2003 to September 2005.
We were doing security for the strategic weapons facility there, mostly for
the ballistic-missile submarines.
While there I went from PFC
[private first class] to lance corporal and was meritoriously promoted to corporal.
After Kings Bay, I received orders
to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines at
Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. We deployed
to Afghanistan in January 2006 and
came back in late May, early June
2006. I was a squad leader as a corporal and during my time in
Afghanistan I was combat meritoriously promoted to sergeant.
We were in Nangarhar and Kunar
provinces, in the northeastern part
of Afghanistan. That was the Marine
Corps’ area of responsibility before
the Marine Corps pulled out of
Afghanistan the first time. We did a
lot of operations in the mountainous
areas of Kunar. A lot of it was squad-
and platoon-level operations. The
terrain was very rigorous and steep.
Very cold at night and hot during
the day. It would snow.
It was basically stability ops,
pushing our presence into the valleys along the Hindu Kush that the
Taliban used as a safe haven. Our
main effort was to push into those
valleys to go ahead and establish
an Afghan presence there with the
Afghan National Army and the
Afghan government. The Marine
Corps officially turned [the opera-tion] over to the [Army] 10th
Mountain Division early June of
2006 and we returned to Hawaii.
After that, I received orders early
in 2008 to Drill Instructor School at
MCRD [Marine Corps Recruit De-
pot] Parris Island. I received my first
recruit platoon in August 2008, and
I completed seven platoons, straight
through, essentially back to back,
with very little break in between.
I did five platoons as a greenbelted drill instructor and two as a
senior drill instructor, and I was
meritoriously promoted to staff
sergeant in January 2010. I had
three honor platoons.
Essentially, it’s hard duty, has demanding hours and a fast pace. It
was easier for me to relate to that
duty because I already was used to
the platoon-level environment. In
the infantry, basically everything
you do is at the platoon level, so I
was used to being in front of a platoon of Marines.
The hardest thing was I recognized that every day I’d come to
work to train the recruits to the
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY 2014
SSgt Robert Pinney
ALPHA 1/5, 1ST MARINE DIVISION
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, CALIF.
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