Marine reserve unit prepares in Hamilton PERSIAN GULF SHOWDOWN


The longest lines at a Marine Corps reservists' company in Hamilton were for the $3 "high and tight" haircuts.

And there were those who needed sets of dog tags, the metal identification plates carried by all military. And, for those who hadn't done it, wills to be made out.

The reservists began the paperwork associated with active duty at the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, Headquarters and Service Company's training center at Hamlet and Chesley avenues in Hamilton in northeast Baltimore.

All along the streets leading to the Marine center, residents flew the American flag and festooned homes with yellow ribbons.

"I bet I'm the only social worker in the Marines," said Cpl. Marc Cruise, 22, a University of Maryland Baltimore County senior who is also a United Parcel Service employee and Ellicott City resident. At school, he majored in social work. In the Marines, he's been trained in kitchen and baking, but he also might wind up in the infantry.

"I needed to make extra money for college and I guess I wanted to be someone. It also looks good on job applications to be a Marine," he said.

Cruise was issued his 75-pound ALICE pack (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) Saturday. It contained a cartridge belt, helmet, sleeping bag, poncho, cap, gloves, gas mask and water canteen, plus other pieces of equipment.

Lance Cpl. Richard Huether, 20, of the 3500 block of Juneway, got a haircut as part of his preparations for a flight later this week to Camp Pendleton, Calif. He was skiing at Seven Springs, Pa., when he got the phone call that his unit was being placed into active service. In civilian life, he's an electrician with Miller Electric.

"I'm impressed with the bombing I've seen. It's so precise. I'm as ready as I can be now," Huether said.

Across the center's drill hall, Sgt. Wayne Grine of Silver Spring punched the dial of a machine that resembled an oversized typewriter.

It made dog tags, the identification carried by all the Marines, including name, blood type, Social Security number, service branch, religion and gas mask size, small, medium or large. The gas mask size was a reminder of the ultimate destination these troops might arrive at following additional orders at Camp Pendleton.

Capt. Tim Birdsong, a Perry Hall resident who is employed at Ward Machinery on Beaver Dam Road in Cockeysville, joked about the tags as he picked up a pair of the aluminum plates about the size of a half-dollar.

"One morning last week my wife answered the phone and was told I was being called up. She didn't like it one bit," said Birdsong, who will go from a marketing and development job into Marine intelligence. "I'm looking forward to Camp Pendleton -- it's the best part of California."

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