CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — Cpl. Joshua Brooks coordinates machinegun fire, trains with foreign militaries and has met the president.
The 24-year-old Petoskey, Mich., native serves as a machine gunner and currently holds the billet of machinegun section leader for Weapons Platoon, Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Machine gunners work as teams in combat to lay down suppressive fire, or decimate enemy forces. Brooks’ job centers on directing those teams onto targets and controlling their rate of fire.
“Basically, my job as the section leader for the company is to control machinegun fire support at the company level,” he said. “What we would do is move into a position and mass fires onto an objective.”
He is also responsible for ensuring all the company’s machine gunners are combat ready.
“I go around to each and every platoon and check on the Marines to see how they are doing and see how their morale is,” he said. “I also keep accountability of all their gear and ensure they have everything they need to work successfully.”
Brooks said he enlisted in the Marine Corps because he wanted a change in his life that would set him apart from everyone around him; he wanted to be different.
“It was boredom mostly,” he said. “I was bored with being like everyone else.”
Brooks worked for UPS and lived in an apartment after graduating from Petoskey High School.
“It was a good paying job, it just was not very fulfilling,” he said. A letter in the mail from his local Marine Corps recruiting station and a few commercials on TV convinced him the Marine Corps might have the fulfillment he desired.
Five years and eight months later, he is on his second enlistment and fourth deployment. He deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice. During those deployments he saw foreign countries, engaged in fire fights, and received the Purple Heart medal.
He was wounded on June 1, 2009, when an IED blew him from the gun-turret of his Humvee during his second deployment.
“We were conducting a QRF (quick reaction force) mission to go pull a battalion Humvee out of a ditch because they rolled a truck,” he said. “We hit an IED on June 1, around 1 o’clock in the morning.”
On June 6, 2009, President Barack Obama personally awarded him the Purple Heart medal at a hospital in Germany.
“It was pretty intense because I didn’t know it was happening,” he said. “He hit the medical ward and then they said ‘VIP on deck.’ The Secret Service was searching my room like 30 seconds later and after that he was walking in.”
“He is much taller than he looks on TV,” he said.
Currently, Brooks is on Camp Buehring, Kuwait, conducting sustainment training along other Marines from the 24th MEU who were previously aboard the USS Gunston Hall.
Brooks said his time in Kuwait has allowed his Marines to come together as a section and sharpen their skills in coordinating machinegun fire. He added the training in Kuwait will help better prepare them for whatever challenges they may face in the future.
“It has been a lot of fun,” he said.
So far on the deployment Brooks has participated in a number of bilateral training events in Jordan and Spain with numerous foreign militaries.
“I am doing stuff completely different than my first three deployments,” he said. “I have learned a lot from it. It is a really unique experience.”
With all of Brooks’ experiences: traveling thousands of miles away from home to numerous countries, seeing combat, training with foreign militaries, and meeting the president – it is easy for him to say he is not the same as everyone else.