Cartersville native leading young Marines in Afghanistan
by Staff Report
May 25, 2011 | 5000 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff Sgt. Rockey L. Crump, center, the forward arming and refueling point at Combat Outpost Ouellette officer in charge with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272, talks with Cpl. David Reinoso, at Combat Outpost Ouellette near Sangin, Afghanistan, April 18. “I know all of the Marines’ goals and ambitions and I try to help them reach those things,” Crump said. “To me being a leader means being firm with your Marines but also being flexible to fit their needs. This is all part of being a Marine.”
CPL. SAMANTHA H. ARRINGTON/Special
Staff Sgt. Rockey L. Crump, center, the forward arming and refueling point at Combat Outpost Ouellette officer in charge with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272, talks with Cpl. David Reinoso, at Combat Outpost Ouellette near Sangin, Afghanistan, April 18. “I know all of the Marines’ goals and ambitions and I try to help them reach those things,” Crump said. “To me being a leader means being firm with your Marines but also being flexible to fit their needs. This is all part of being a Marine.” CPL. SAMANTHA H. ARRINGTON/Special
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By the light of a full Afghan moon, a handful of young Marines are hard at work near Combat Outpost Ouellette. They lay a thick plastic liner over a hollow square. When finished, they will have created a container for more than 40,000 gallons of jet fuel -- extending the range for Marine helicopters supporting ground troops near Sangin, Afghanistan.

By their side a staff sergeant whose service began more than a decade ago guides the young troops not only with a fierce voice, but with his actions. His leadership is by example.

Cartersville native Staff Sgt. Rockey L. Crump serves as a mentor and guide for dozens of junior troops as the senior Marine for the new forward arming and refueling point at Combat Outpost Ouellette. Crump, who traditionally serves with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 as the assistant fuels chief, is the forward arming and refueling point's officer in charge.

"I expect all of my Marines to be leaders," he said. "I want them to do the best that they can and I expect nothing out of them that I wouldn't do myself."

First deployed in 2004, Crump served two tours in Iraq before his third -- and current -- deployment sent him to Afghanistan.

Crump was a team leader for an incident response platoon of Marines on his second tour in Iraq, which he said helped mold his leadership abilities. An incident response platoon is a quick reaction unit that conducts missions ranging from mounted patrols to escorting explosive ordnance disposal teams, and Crump was responsible for ensuring missions were completed safely and effectively.

"My last deployment had a big part in preparing me for a role like this," he said. "My deployment to Iraq is what got me selected to do this job in Afghanistan."

The forward arming and refueling point was recently constructed at the combat outpost to enable 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) to better support Marines and other coalition troops operating near Sangin. Sgt. Maj. Robert A. Allen said effective and experienced leadership was crucial for the forward arming and refueling point's success.

"Staff Sgt. Crump displays those qualities and traits which are both respected and effective with Marines," Allen said. "He provides guidance and direction to his non-commissioned officers then he allows them the opportunity to accomplish the mission under his supervision."

For Crump's mother-in-law, Cathy Gilliland of Cartersville, his decision to enlist with the U.S. Marines Corps is just an example of Crump's personality.

"He wanted a better life for him and his family," she said of Crump and his wife of almost 12 years, Chrissy, and children, Kaitlyn, 10, and Trey, 9. Crump was working various jobs when he joined the military more than a decade ago.

"He's a very kind and giving person. He'd give you the shirt off his back," Gilliland said.

Although Crump enlisted prior to Sept. 11, his mother-in-law believes the terrorist attacks made him more dedicated. In the past Gilliland said her son-in-law expressed his support of the U.S. role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"He'd rather be overseas fighting for his family than have his enemy here," she said.

While Crump is stationed in Afghanistan, the news of Osama bin Laden's death was something of a surprise.

"Do you know they didn't even know until I told them?" Gilliland said. "He's in Afghanistan and he didn't know [bin Laden was dead]."

Crump said he has been too busy to know what reactions may have been like among the locals, but reports of suicide bombings in Pakistan are something he and his men are prepared to face.

"That is definitely something that we have seen happen from time to time," he said, adding that he had never personally witnessed a suicide bombing. "We always do a lot of training with that and for things of that nature. Whether we are back in the states or out here, we are always continuously training to better prepare ourselves."

Crump said the mission of his squadron is to aid the local population as much as possible.

"Our biggest plan is to help everyone stand up to the best of their ability so that we could maybe not be over here one day. This is my opinion on it," he said. "[Our goal is to] get everyone stood up how we need to be, so we can continue to do what we do on a day-to-day basis, which is being Marines."

Crump, who is expected to arrive stateside in the early fall, said while the atmosphere on base is supportive, he misses the feeling of being in his hometown -- and his favorite eating place, Chick-fil-A.

"The feeling of being surrounded by a good family atmosphere, you know, that's being back at home. We definitely get that here, it's just a different atmosphere not being in our hometown," he said.

Gilliland said her daughter and grandchildren, who are based in Chinquapin, N.C., will return to Cartersville for the summer. She said she plans to spend "a lot of time of time at the pool" with her family.

Also, Gilliland has another son-in-law, Waylon "Tony" Cabe, stationed in the same vicinity as Crump. Cabe's wife, Corrie, and children Kylee, 5, and Easton, 3 months, currently reside in Cartersville.

Although this is Crump's third deployment, Gilliland said it doesn't get any easier -- for the soldier or his family. "It's an adjustment when he leaves and when he comes back. You've got to incorporate him back in."

-- Information from Cpl. Samantha H. Arrington was used this article.