FORT LEWIS, WA, UNITED STATES --
The Marines with 4th Marine Logistics Group (MLG) are standing on the front lines of a battle no one expected the Marine Corps to be involved in: the fight against COVID-19.
Brig. Gen. Doug Pierson, Commanding General, 4th MLG, and Gunnery Sgt. Ian Watkins, the operations chief for Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 23, received their second and final round of injections as a part of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
“I had no side effects, more than a sore arm,” said Pierson after receiving the injection.
Both Pierson and Watkins had access to the early roll out of the vaccine due to their jobs outside of the Marine Corps as first responders. Pierson volunteers with the Seattle Mountain Rescue Team, while Watkins gives back to the community as a firefighter.
“If Marines have a chance to get vaccinated, they should take advantage of the opportunity. It will increase immunization not just across the force but also the global population,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ian Watkins, the operations chief for Combat Logistics Battalion
“It’s a great, long-awaited step deeply needed for us to get past this.”
Underneath the battalion’s leadership, they have successfully navigated the first year of the pandemic with no Marines contracting COVID-19 while in a drilling status. Lt. Col. Adam Bonifant, commanding officer of CLB-23, was taken aback at how eager his Marines were to volunteer for getting vaccinated.
“We wanted to test the waters to see how many Marines would volunteer to get vaccinated if we could get frontloaded onto the waiting list, and we got an amazing response; over half the Marines,” Bonifant explained.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher England
With their small unit leaders at the front, Marines are chomping at the bit to finally receive a weapon capable of defeating this nontraditional enemy.
“Every time we, as Marines, get deployed, there is a battery of shots that you take, and this is just another one,” Bonifant explained. “It’s another enemy we have to combat, and we have a way to do it now, which is the vaccine.”
As a fighting force, the Marine Corps will always be ready to accomplish any mission. Whether it is in battle against one of the nation’s adversaries or fighting a deadly pandemic, Marines always rise to the challenge and will continue to do so throughout 2021.