View Full Version : Erie, Penn. native leads seasoned squad of Marines

10-26-05, 06:18 AM
Erie, Penn. native leads seasoned squad of Marines
2nd Marine Division
Story by Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Zahn

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Oct. 26, 2005) -- The sound of magazines being slapped into weapons and bolts chambering rounds cuts through the dust-filled air. The men adjust their flak jackets and Kevlar helmets to ensure the maximum amount of comfort over the next two hours. Once these final preparations are made, they all look at their leader. Every man is in his place and knows his role in the mission. They won’t move however, unless they receive the order to do so.

The commanding voice of their leader bellows out, “Hey, are ya’ll ready?”

The voice receives a chorus of affirmative replies.

“Then let’s roll,” the voice says.

The voice belongs to Cpl. Mindo D. Estrella, the squad leader for 1st Squad, 4th Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. The 22-year-old Erie, Penn. native and his squad patrolled the streets of Fallujah as part of Operation Liberty Express. The operation was conducted to provide security for the referendum voting held in Iraq Oct. 15.

Estrella and his Marines worked side by side with the Iraqi Army during Liberty Express.

“I like working with the IA and teaching them our tactics,” he said. “I think that they’re learning what we are teaching them and one day will be able to take over operations.”

The mission for the majority of their patrols is to demonstrate a show of force, to establish their presence and to secure the streets of Fallujah.

“We try to make it hard on the insurgents to do the things that they want to do, like plant improvised explosive devices,” said Estrella.

During the patrols, Estrella confidently led his squad with the well-practiced ease that comes with working together for a long period of time.

“I am extremely confident in my squad,” said Estrella. “They are the most experienced squad I have ever worked with. Only one person in my squad is on his first deployment, everyone else has been here before.”

This experience also plays a factor in the platoon.

“All of the squad leaders in 4th Platoon have been deployed before,” he added. “I feel that we are without a doubt the best platoon in the company.”

The confidence Estrella displays toward his squad is noticed throughout the company.

“He’s an awesome kid,” said Gunnery Sgt. Larry J. Harrington, the company gunnery sergeant for Company F. “He always goes the extra mile to make sure that his Marines are prepared.”

Estrella committed himself to his Marines even further by re-enlisting in October shortly after the battalion arrived in Iraq. He had made the decision to re-enlist in September before the battalion deployed.

“I like what I do,” said Estrella. “It gets rough at times but nobody made me come out here. I signed the contract knowing what I was getting myself into.”


05-14-10, 10:36 AM
Sgt. Estrella is now Staff Sgt. Estrella, my senior drill instructor. Motivated, professional, and lethal.