Data Network Specialist Keeps Marines Connected


CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Taking on the workload of a senior noncommissioned officer is a testament to an individual Marine’s character, and doing it as a lance corporal is an inspiration.

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas Patterson, data network specialist and information assurance noncommissioned officer-in-charge for Regimental Combat Team 7 here, performs two jobs and never skips a beat.

“I monitor the security for the network to ensure classified information stays classified,” said Patterson, who hails from Green Bay, Wis. “I also troubleshoot networks for thousands of users and it’s my job to make sure they have network capabilities and a means of communication wherever they are in Afghanistan.”

Not satisfied with just making sure the networks are up and running correctly, the 21-year-old Patterson also ensures the farther the Marines push from the larger bases that their service is never far behind.

“I also do satellite communications to the more austere locations like the [forward operating bases] and [combat outposts] and extend the network reach so the guys that need to push out can still have the same service,” Patterson said.

Patterson’s responsibilities are typically performed by a sergeant, but his desire to do the job well makes him a natural fit for the billet.

“I’m a quick learner and can keep up with everything, but sometimes it becomes very difficult troubleshooting systems outside your location,” Patterson said. “Being able to see the configurations and trying to help them over the phone gets complicated at times.”

Patterson loves being a Marine, and his service to something larger than himself began before he stepped on the yellow footprints at boot camp.

“My church group in Green Bay built houses in Minnesota for those less fortunate,” Patterson said. “When I played sports in high school, we also helped out with different charity organizations, and we would go over there and do our part for our community. During Christmas time, my wrestling team would sing carols at local hospitals. We went from floor-to-floor and anybody that wanted to listen we’d sing [to], but we went there to sing for the kids.”

Patterson’s drive to become a Marine came from a competitive spirit and a desire to show his grandfather he had what it took to be successful in the military.

“My grandfather was in the Air Force during the Vietnam era, and he always bragged about it,” Patterson said. “I wanted to be the grandchild that went above and beyond what he had already done. I’m very competitive, and I played a lot of contact sports. I wanted to one-up everybody, so I wanted to join the Marine Corps.”

Now with two years in the Corps, Patterson says he would like to stick with his current career path and finish strong on this deployment.

“I’m glad I became a data Marine, and I want to see how this deployment goes,” Patterson said. “The Marine Corps has been good to me, so I’ll probably stay in. Doing data in the Marine Corps has given me a skill that will serve me throughout my life.”

Also, to no surprise to anyone from the Green Bay area, Patterson is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan.

“I’ve been a Packers fan since birth,” he said with a laugh. “Every kid has their own blanket when they go to sleep as a baby. Mine was a Packers blanket, and it’s been that kind of devotion to the team since.”

Patterson shows the same devotion for his team and his career, and his chain of command has taken notice.

“Lance Cpl. Patterson is a consummate professional with his technical expertise with data [communications] and brings enthusiasm and a strong work ethic every day,” said Gunnery Sgt. Albert Perez, RCT-7 cyber security manager and Patterson’s staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “I hope he stays in the Marine Corps because he has a lot of potential and any task he’s given or takes on his own, it just gets done.”

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