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thedrifter
07-21-05, 02:53 PM
Retired Marine stays on ‘til job’s done
2nd Marine Division
Story by Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq (July 21, 2005) -- One gunnery sergeant with the 2nd Marine Division received his folded flag in a retirement ceremony this week after more than 20 years of active duty service in the Corps – but it was a retirement ceremony unlike any other.

Unlike most, or as far as anyone here knows – any other Marines in the Corps, Gunnery Sgt. Theodore Pufall decided to forego his trip back home for a peaceful and quiet retirement. He decided to stay here with his Marines and serve in combat for the remainder of their stay with the division – the Marines’ ground combat element for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

After he gave a speech for all of the attendees and reminisced about some of his days in the Corps, he went right back to work. For the next several months while the division is working in Iraq, he is part of the Individual Ready Reserve force

“When I made this decision, it was for a lot of personal and professional reasons,” said Pufall. “I think the deciding factor was because it was the last tour with my troops and I wanted to play Cowboys and Indians one last time.”

Pufall spent many years assigned to what Marines consider hardship duties. He spent two tours in Okinawa, Japan with his family working both for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and 3rd Marine Division.

He was also a recruiter in Cheyenne, Wyo., from 1996 to 1999. Considered one of the toughest duties a Marine can have, especially in that sparsely populated part of the country, Pufall made the best of it. He became the Small Station Recruiter of the Year in 1998.

“I spent most of my time in my government vehicle doing ‘road time’ as we call it,” said Pufall. “I put an average of 3000 to 5000 miles per month on that car canvassing for recruits.”

Here at the division, Pufall doesn’t have to look too hard for help. He has several Marines working for him who manage the division’s data section – a computer network linking the Marines to the information highway. He and his team are relied upon to keep communications up.

“Gunny is the number one guy on call out of anybody in his section,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Tyndale, division communications maintenance chief. “When the general’s computer is down, if there’s anybody in here who can fix it in a hurry, it’s him.”

Pufall ensures the division’s computer links are up and running, keeping the vital information flow open between the division’s major subordinate commands. He breaks it down to one thing – customer service.

“No matter what we do, it comes to the basics – service to the customer,” said Pufall.

One of his biggest achievements was when he and his Marines established the new Windows 2003 program on the division’s server during the transition from 1st Marine Division to the 2nd.

“Before we came out we trained for six months to a year for this at the division, regimental and battalion levels,” said Pufall. “If we didn’t, we’d be hurtin’ for certain.”

Pufall said he joined many years ago for many different reasons, but the main one was the camaraderie of being a Marine.

“My advice to younger Marines is to take it one day at a time,” said Pufall. “Take each challenge to the fullest and do the best you can.”

Ellie