FORWARD OPERATING BASE WHITEHOUSE, Afghanistan -- A Marine is useless without a rifle. A rifle is useless without ammunition.
At 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, ensuring magazines are full is the job of the battalion’s sole ammunition technician.
Sgt. Waylon Sliker, from Sparta, N.J., has, so far, provided more than 630,000 rounds of ammunition to keep Marines in the fight this deployment.
“Once the ammo is requested, I get what they need from the ammunition supply point,” Sliker said. “Through all the chaos of firefights the infantry Marines go through, they need someone to keep track of their ammo, and that’s where I come in.”
As the ammunition chief, Sliker is responsible for more than $3.2 million dollars worth of bullets, rockets, missiles, demolition explosives, grenades and Claymore mines.
Coming through the ranks to become the subject matter expert for all ammunition in the 1st Bn., 8th Marines area of operations, Sliker actually began his career as a Marine because of some advice from his father.
“My dad told me when I was growing up that every man should be a part of the military to earn their way as an American,” the 25-year-old Sliker said. “I knew I always wanted to join, and the Marine Corps had a reputation for being the most hard-core of all the other services. I wanted to be a part of that.”
Joining within months after graduating from Wallkill Valley Regional High School in September 2004, Sliker’s career has taken him around the world. He is currently on his second deployment to Afghanistan.
“On my first deployment, we trained the (Afghan National Civil Order Police) as a part of an embedded training team in Herat province,” Sliker said. “I was one of 12 Marines that trained over 800 ANCOP to do everything from driving a truck to firing an AK-47. On this deployment, I get to operate within my (military occupational specialty) and see how it directly affects the battles fought around us.”
Sliker turned in paperwork to become a combat instructor at the School of Infantry so he can pass on his knowledge to the future of the Marine Corps.
“The Marine Corps took me as I was and made me a better person,” Sliker said. “If I can give back in any way, I will. And by teaching junior Marines, I can have a lasting impression that will hopefully have a positive effect on a generation of Marines.”
Editor’s note: First Battalion, 8th Marines is a part of Regimental Combat Team 6. RCT-6 falls under 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.