CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - From working as a card dealer under the bright lights in Las Vegas to combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is no stranger to risk or its rewards.
Staff Sgt. NamGary Yuan, a Marine reservist from Las Vegas, Nev., and motor transportation chief with Combat Logistics Regiment 2, Regional Command (Southwest), committed his life to something new when he joined the Marine Corps.
His career exposed him to nearly every facet of conducting combat logistics patrols at the company level. Yet after four deployments, he said leading Marines is still his most striking memory in the military.
“I wanted to experience something different that not many people are willing to try and to push myself to accomplish the impossible,” said Yuan, who is currently working his way through his second deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Yuan cut his teeth as a vehicle operator during his first deployments to Iraq in 2003 and 2007.
“[Being] a young Marine deploying for the first time into a combat zone was definitely something,” recalled Yuan.
He adapted and grew from his time in Iraq. As Yuan picked up more experience, he worked his way into the position of vehicle commander and eventual assistant patrol leader for convoys.
Newer and greater responsibilities waited for him with each advancement. Nearly a decade after he first stepped foot in Iraq, Yuan took responsibility for training and leading servicemembers setting out for Afghanistan.
His 2013 deployment marked the first combat tour for many of Yuan’s Marines. It represented a shift for him as well.
Yuan assumed the role of assistant operations chief and immediate response team commander for CLR-2.
“All my deployments have involved [combat logistics patrols],” said Yuan. “To work on the other side paints a bigger picture of what Transportation Support Company handles on every deployment.”
Yuan helps organize and track convoys moving outside the wire. He also monitors reconnaissance sources to maintain a real-time picture of the battle space and protect personnel conducting operations. The new role is a significant change from his previous positions within convoys.
“We oversee everything that happens in the company, from moving a piece of gear down the street to moving gear to other bases,” said Yuan. “I work 12-hour shifts, and by the time I get off and work out, it’s time to hit the rack and start over again.”
Immediate response for vehicle recovery requires him to be ready at a moment’s notice. Sleep is a precious commodity … vigilance a necessity.
Yuan said he rarely calls home but often writes letters back to his family members. He credits them for setting a standard of service, success and support.
“They migrated here from China, and they accomplished so much to give us everything,” said Yuan. “After arriving in America, they learned English and started working without relying on anyone. My family has supported everything I’ve done, and they have been outstanding with all four of my deployments.”
Yuan’s grandfather served as a captain in the South Vietnamese Army, and his father helped the U.S. Army gather intelligence. He also has a cousin serving as a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserves.