By Sgt. Ned Johnson
Special to the Daily Sun
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - After his last deployment here in 2010, Sgt. Philip Noble thought he would never come back. He deployed five times as an infantryman, four times to Iraq and one other time here, so not many could blame him for not wanting to return.
But when he was asked to volunteer one more time, he did just that and brought his experience and skills to Regimental Combat Team 7.
Noble, the assistant gunner and training non-commissioned officer for RCT-7, is responsible for coordinating Reset, Staging, Onward movement and Integration for all coalition forces who arrive in Helmand province. RSO&I is the initial process each unit must complete upon arrival to Afghanistan that includes refresher-training courses, live-fire ranges, counter improvised explosive device training and movement to the unit’s area of operation.
Units have been going through RSO&I for the last decade of war, but the process is often changing. For Noble, his experience with it began in 2010.
“When we came out here in 2010 with (3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment), each unit was responsible for coordinating their own RSO&I. Gunner (Carpenter) and I spent the first month trying to get everything organized and completed,” said Noble, a 32-year-old native of Corsicana. “That’s when Gunner had his idea for how it should be done.”
A Marine infantry weapons officer, or gunner, is an infantryman who is a subject matter expert on all weapons systems, training and force protection for each infantry battalion and regiment. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Matthew Carpenter was the gunner for 3rd Bn., 7th Marines, and is now the gunner for RCT-7.
Carpenter’s idea in 2010 turned into Noble’s current responsibilities. Carpenter thought each gunner’s skillset and time was too valuable to be tied up chasing down vehicles and filling out training rosters. He believed it should be handled by the RCT. When Carpenter pitched the idea to Noble before RCT-7 deployed, he volunteered to take the job.
This was nothing new for Noble. He has volunteered for his last 5 deployments.
Recently, Noble was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by Lt. Gen. James Terry, the commander of International Security Assistance Forces Joint Command, the second highest command in Afghanistan, for being the foremost authority on training and RSO&I in Afghanistan.
The job hasn’t been easy for Noble, who has spent countless hours on the weapons firing range in temperatures from 32 to 100 plus degrees. He is also responsible for securing transportation and lodging for units, in addition to planning their training days.
“Gunner sold me on it,” Noble said. “When I came out here, I knew this was going to be my job.”
Carpenter knows the difficulties of the job, but said Noble is always up for any task.
“No task is too large or too hard to handle,” Carpenter said. “He just gets things done, period.”
In 2010, Noble proved his versatility when he was moved from assistant gunner to squad leader with 3rd Bn., 7th Marines.
“They were having to move squad leaders around and having some issues, so I was asked to step in,” Noble said.
Noble did more than just step into the role— he took over as a leader.
“(He’s) absolutely tenacious, and doesn’t know the word quit. You can put him in any billet in peacetime or combat, and he just gets it done,” Carpenter said. “I witnessed him firsthand as an infantry squad leader here in 2010, leading from the front in some of the toughest fighting the battalion had encountered during this war.”
Noble had developed in the Marine Corps as an infantryman in places like Fallujah and Ramadi, where Marines fought intense battles in Iraq.
Now, he hopes to take his experiences in a different direction as he applies to make a lateral move to counterintelligence.
“Every time I have worked with counterintelligence (Marines), they have been very knowledgeable and completely professional,” Noble said. “The job has always intrigued me, and they need Marines.”
Noble, who joined the Marine Corps to follow in the footsteps of his stepfather who served in Vietnam, admitted that his six combat deployments have taken a toll on him and that he needs change, but has no plans to leave the Marine Corps.
“I like the Marine Corps and love being a Marine,” Noble said. “This is what I joined to do.”
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