The two halves of the U.S. Marines service of Grand Island’s Miles Neville demonstrated both sides of the Marines’ reputation — ceremonial glory and grit.
Neville, now 29, served five active-duty years, 2009 to 2014, and advanced to the rank of sergeant.
At Hornady Manufacturing, his current employer, Neville is employed in engineering for bullets.
He began serving in Washington, D.C., where he was assigned to provide security standing in dress uniform outside the Marine Barracks, including the Marine commandant’s house — “the oldest continually inhabited building in Washington, built in 1801,” he said.
For the second half of his service, Neville sailed on ships patrolling the western Pacific Ocean; this included regular duties much more “active” than those involved in his Washington assignments.
After boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina, infantry training at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune and security forces training in Virginia, he was “pulled to” Washington. There he served in the ceremonial duty, followed by security duty at the White House Communications Agency, a separate building about five miles from the White House itself.
At that time Neville was sometimes called on to help provide security and communications support, on trips outside the country, for President Barack Obama (once, to Greece) and Vice President Joe Biden (twice). “That was all suit-and-tie stuff” (no uniforms), he said.
After about two years with those Marine Security Forces, Neville said, he “went to the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine regiment in Camp Pendleton, Calif.” There he was assigned to “a small-boat raid company specializing in Zodiac boats” — black rubber boats about 20 feet long and capable of carrying seven or eight men. He spent the second two years of his service rehearsing raids with Zodiac boats in locations scattered around the Pacific Ocean.
“And so we would get dropped off the big ship in Zodiacs about 20 to 30 miles offshore, over the horizon, and we would come in, land and if we were called to we could go on a raid; that was our company’s mission,” he said.
Neville and his fellow Marines at the time never carried out an actual raid, but were prepared to do so if it had been necessary. They’d also been trained in skills needed in close combat.
“If anything in the Pacific theater nearby would have required immediate military force, then we were on a Navy ship in the area ready to go. Within 24 hours the Marine Corps can be anywhere they need to be in the world,” he said.
The Pacific coastlines are covered by ships out of Camp Pendleton and Atlantic areas are covered out of Camp Lejeune, Neville said.
Much of his time was spent on the high seas as Neville and his shipmates sailed around the Pacific and Indian oceans. They had training and practice in Hawaii, the Philippine Islands, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and South Korea.
In Djibouti they were a “reserve element” because of an uprising in nearby South Sudan, he said, but their presence turned out not to be needed.