January 23, 2014 --
By Carden Hedelt, MCSC Corporate Communications
Mackie Jordan sat halfway in a box of plastic-sealed Meal, Ready-to-Eat rations. They did surprisingly well to cushion bumps in the road through the Mojave Desert that she, fellow Marine Corps Systems Command employee Dr. Rebecca Jaworski and five Marines from 1st Light Armored battalion traveled on in late November.
The 60-degree temperatures and California skies that greeted the two upon their arrival in the Golden state were gone, replaced with sub-freezing temperatures, blustery winds and foreboding clouds. There she sat, shivering in the back of a Light Armored Vehicle so full with gear that Jordan and her fellow passengers had to sit wherever they could find space.
“The Marines told me all they could see of me was my knees and my helmet,” Jordan said.
Jordan and Jaworski were embedding with the 1st LAR. In doing so, they learned a few dos and don’ts of living like a Marine.
The first: don’t set your tent up on the side of a hill.
“The first night we set up our tent on a little slope,” Jordan said. “In the middle of the night, [Jaworski] and I kept sliding across the floor in our sleep systems and would wind up right next to each other at the bottom of the tent.”
The second lesson came when Jordan and Jaworski set up their tent the next night – this time on flat ground.
The order came out to go tactical, meaning the two could not use any white lights to aid them in setting up their tent. All they had were white lights.
The lesson? Do count on your fellow Marine.
“I borrowed a red headlamp from one of the first sergeants and that helped us get our tent up before it got too late,” Jordan said. “In almost everything we did, if we ever needed help, we asked and someone would
always make sure we got what we needed.”
The third lesson was the hardest of all.
When the temperature dropped and those foreboding clouds started pouring rain and sleet, turning the California desert frigid and muddy, the two thought it couldn’t get any worse.
She was wrong.
Jaworski’s pack, loaded onto the outside of the vehicle because of a lack of space inside, was too close to the LAV’s heating element exhaust pipe.
The lesson, which they learned the hard way: don’t put your pack too close to a heat source.
“It caught fire, and we lost our tent and one sleeping system, along with some of [Jaworski’s] clothes,” Jordan said.
“The Marines of Alpha Company bailed us out,” Jaworski said. “A private first class offered me an extra sleep system he had. Just like everything else, we figured it out with help from the Marines.”
For a related story, click here.