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A Marine who won't let go yet

Posted: May 22, 2009 9:48 p.m.
Updated: May 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Bryan Warloe served in the U.S. Marine Corps as part of an armored division that escorted supply convoys.

 
Bryan Warloe isn't quite ready to leave the United State Marine Corps.

Warloe, a Marine corporal, will complete his contract and be discharged on July 31.

"My girlfriend doesn't understand why I am leaving. She looked me in the eyes and told me, ‘you're not ready to leave,'" he said.

He is not yet ready to let go of his emotional attachment to the storied service, she said.

Warloe's love affair with the Marine Corps began in the 10th grade at Canyon High School.

"We were asked to put together a collage on the Armed Services," he said. Warloe visited the recruiting offices of all the branches of the military.
The straight-talking Marine recruiters, who told him any time served in the Marines would be hard work, but worth it, convinced Warloe that the Marine Corps was where he belonged.

"If I was going to risk my life, it was going to be with people as professional as Marines are," he said.

Warloe, 22, of Canyon Country, didn't wait until his 18th birthday to sign up. "My mother signed a parental waiver that allowed me to enlist at 17," he said.

After he graduated from Canyon High and turned 18 in 2005, Warloe headed for basic training in San Diego on Aug. 1, 2005.

In basic training, Warloe found duty in the Marines Corps that paired his military service with his first love. "I love weapons," he said.

He became an expert who fixes light weapons and trains other Marines to use those weapons.

Warloe deployed for Iraq in September 2006. The war in Iraq was raging and insurgents were using improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, to kill American service personnel.

"I was apprehensive at first, but once I got in country for a month, it became routine," he said.

The routine, however, looked nothing like a routine life in the U.S., Warloe said. He was part of an armored division that escorted supply convoys across the desert.

The convoys are often targets of the insurgency. Warloe was tasked with scanning the horizon looking for threats such as a vehicle driving at a high rates of speed toward the convoy, or an upturned pile of dirt where an explosive might lay waiting.

"It can be a high-stress environment," he said.

The stress was turned up even more during one particular convoy where Warloe and his unit narrowly averted disaster. "A group of kids on the side of the rode flagged us down," he said.

Warloe told the driver of his Humvee to pull to the side. The Iraqi children led the Marine on foot to an improvised explosive device buried in the road.

"It was the first time I realized that there were people who didn't know me who were trying to kill me," he said.

Warloe arrived home in April of 2007. He has not been back to Iraq, or in combat, since, but with the conflict in Afghanistan boiling, Warloe wants part of the action.

"I am trying to extend my contract, but only if I can do the same job I have now, in Afghanistan."

Warloe has been denied an extension he applied for earlier this year, as the Marine Corps has changed its policy on extending service-personnel stays in combat areas, he said.

And now, with his days in the military dwindling, Warloe seems to agree with his girlfriend - he isn't sure he's ready to leave.
"There's something about being a Marine and doing something no one thought you could do," he said. "I found my niche."

A job in private security or law enforcement awaits someone with Warloe's experience with weapons when he leaves the service, he said. But the allure of the Marine Corps is strong.

"I like everything about the Marines - the travel, the work and the camaraderie. It's tough to imagine life without the Marines," he said.

On Memorial Day weekend, Warloe will surrounded by family, but his thoughts will be on others who served in the military.

"My grandfather is buried at Eternal Valley (Memorial Park)," he said. "He served two years in the Army."

Warloe's carried his grandfather's casket while attired in his ceremonial dress-blue Marine Corps uniform. "That was an honor for me," he said.

Warloe plans to visit his grandfather's grave and reach out to all his family and friends who served in the military.

"The thoughts of all the people who have served this country will be on my mind that day," he said.

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