2nd Lt. Natasha Wellington

From Station

Marine Corps to the Core

"by Caroline Post"

I sat down with another Marine this week, 2nd Lt. Natasha Wellington. A small, pixie-eyed woman, her appearances are deceiving. She looks as if she might have been fated to be a consort or theater dancer, but she's one tough Marine, and she makes no bones about it.

"Reckon it was all my parents could do to keep me from joining up the moment I could walk," she confessed. Her entire family is dedicated to the Marine corps, and includes two brothers who died in the recent war, serving the Corps. "No greater honor, I reckon," she said.

Another brother is a Staff Sergeant planet side. She has visited him and gotten a good taste of the camaraderie which is felt among a group of men who cheat death together. I had the impression that Lt. Wellington wanted the same for herself here on Kepler.

Natasha grew up in London on Earth. I asked her if she missed the cities and the crowds. "I don't think so, no. Silly as it may sound, I grew up as a Marine. I've lived and breathed the Marine lifestyle for as long as I remember. I guess you can say I kept to a tight group of mates. We all had Corps families . . . I was, of course, the only girl in the group . . . . "

Well, then, I wondered if the bright lights of the city weren't an attraction, what was. It turns out that sports holds her attention during the not-working hours of her life. As a school girl, Lt. Wellington ran. She was a sprinter and admits that now, "I'm no where near where I used to be, but I reckon I'm still pretty quick on the fun runs." I presumed she referred to the 50 km runs Marines think of as fun . . . with a 20 kilo backpack.

The Marine commander, Captain Justin Shard, is a big proponent of every Marine being interchangeable, as far as duties are concerned. He is what is known among the Corps as a "Mud Marine," and believes even pilots should be able to keep up on the ground. I asked the lieutenant what she thought of that policy.

"Captain Shard is very . . . big on everybody pulling their own weight. I have to agree - certainly everyone should be able to do anything so that we become a unit that is self-sufficient . . . We've got a good crew out here. Great bunch that can accomplish anything . . . whether they be grunts or pilots."

The Lieutenant took a moment to remember the pilot who was killed at the start of the Tiddleoff visit. "It's just very sad when we lose good people. We lost a pilot - good Marine. Knew him for just a short hop. We're too few out here to be dying . . . ."

She wrapped up the interview with some final thoughts about the future of the Marine group on Kepler. There are 10 pilots and 30 enlisted ground troops, including the maintenance crew for the fighters. The lieutenant emphasized the support each Marine gives to the others.

"We're a rather small contingent out here on Kepler. Reckon we have a large area to cover with very few bodies . . . but, as Marines, we can do anything, anywhere, at anytime. There's no doubt we'll be the elite unit Captain Shard envisions. I've got my wings, but that does no good with nowhere to set down at the end of the day."