By Marine Corps Cpl. Michele Watson
1st Marine Logistics Group
CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan, March 9, 2012 – Every service member deployed to Afghanistan has a story to tell. Marine Corps Cpl. Matthew J. Kirby seemingly cannot stop grinning long enough to tell his.
Despite the hardships faced while deployed to a combat zone, Kirby always has a smile on his face and is usually laughing about something. Since he was 5 years old, Kirby said, he dreamed of joining the armed forces.
“As a kid growing up, my dad always told me stories of his time served in Vietnam,” said Kirby, 24, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz. “I knew I wanted to be the best of the best, so I joined the Marine Corps.”
For the last five months, Kirby has served as a gunner for Motor Transport Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, during tactical logistics support convoys in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. “Part of the reason I joined during a time of war was to deploy to a combat zone,” he said. “I wanted to get different experiences most people don’t have.”
He has been given new job opportunities that some Marines do not get a chance to experience. Kirby’s primary specialty is as a crew chief for amphibious assault vehicles. But instead of storming beaches, Kirby is now attached to a security team. As the gunner of his vehicle, his main job is to provide security during missions.
“Kirby takes his work seriously,” said Marine Corps Cpl. Evan McLellan, one of Kirby’s friends and co-workers. “He has high expectations for his junior Marines, and whatever task he’s in charge of gets done.”
Kirby sets the bar high for his Marines, but he also is willing to sacrifice his time to help them when they need it.
“There was a time when we were in [predeployment training], and I was really, really sick,” McLellan said. “I was supposed to stand post that night, but Kirby took my watch so I could sleep.”
Though Kirby takes his work seriously, he is well known for his optimistic and cheery demeanor. “When the morale is down, Kirby is a goofball and can put a smile on anyone’s face,” McLellan said.
Kirby said that while he is glad to have had the opportunity to come to Afghanistan, he is also looking forward to going home.
“I miss being able to sleep in a bed,” he joked. “I’m looking forward to going out with my friends and seeing my family again.”