Marine earns two awards, trip home from Iraq

28 Oct 2005 | Lance Cpl. Katina J. Johnson

When Marines do an outstanding job, they might hear an ‘Oohrah’ from fellow comrades, but when they go above and beyond the call of duty some receive a lot more than a motivating shout.

For Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Dobbins, the assistant Marine Air Traffic Control mobile team leader and ATC crew chief for Marine Air Control Squadron Detachment A, the story is no different.

On Oct. 12, Dobbins received the Kenneth A. Innis Aviation Command and Control Marine of the Year Award at an awards banquet in Reno, Nev. Every year, one Marine from an Aviation Command and Control Unit in the Corps is awarded based on outstanding service.

“The award is a way for the Marine Corps to say thank you,” said 1st Lt. Kapell Eugene, an ATC watch commander aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. “Dobbins is an outstanding Marine and we should be saying thank you to him for all he does for us.”

Dobbins received the award for developing forward arming and refueling points at Forward Operating Base Mudaysis, Iraq and for providing safe and expeditious handling of more than 12,000 military personnel and 1,400 medical evacuations and combat sorties. He also provided extended aviation support for the II Marine Expeditionary Force by establishing a landing area on a section of closed highway in Fallujah, Iraq. The landing area became the initial collection point for wounded personnel during heavy combat operations. His actions were a force multiplier for all coalition forces supporting the war on terror and in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and United States Naval Service, according to the award citation.

“This Marine is the epitome of unselfishness,” said Sgt. Maj. Alexander McBride, the sergeant major for the Air Station. “I am so proud to have him as one of my Marines.”

To receive the award, Dobbins was flown from Iraq to Beaufort and then to the awards ceremony in Reno.

“I was presented the award by the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (General) William L. Nyland,” Dobbins said. “It was quite an honor.”

After the awards presentation in Reno he was flown back to Beaufort so he could return to Iraq. However, before Dobbins could board his return flight on Oct. 19, he was presented with another award from Tri-Command Military Housing, a check for more than $1,000, which was equal to one month’s basic housing allowance.

“We wanted to do something special for him and his family to show how much we appreciated his service,” said Katie Smith, the director of marketing for TCMH. “We don’t want him over there (Iraq) worrying about his family; that’s our job. We hoped this check would be of use so he could do his job over there and not have to worry about how his family was doing over here.”

On Oct. 17, Smith, Vicki Sharp, the director of property management for TCMH and Denise Dominguez, a service accountant for TCMH, presented Dobbins with the check during a ceremony at the Welcome Center aboard Laurel Bay.

“I was so shocked when they gave me the check,” Dobbins said. “I thought I was coming for a letter of appreciation or something. This has been such an outstanding experience, from getting an award in Reno, to receiving the check. I‘m just glad to represent the Marine Corps as best I can.”

Three days after receiving the check, Dobbins departed the Air Station one final time to return to his unit in Iraq.

“This whole experience has been very memorable,” Dobbins said. “When I left Iraq to come here, a lot of people wanted to be my ‘battle buddy.’ In Iraq, you have to have a ‘battle buddy’ wherever you go, so a lot of them volunteered. They were happy a Marine from the unit was being recognized. Overall I’m just honored to serve.”