CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Lance Cpl. Alexander Dalziel knows that the lives of his Marines are in his hands. It’s a responsibility that he takes seriously and he works tirelessly to ensure his Marines are ready for whatever they may face.
Inspired by his father’s service as a Marine officer and his love of country, Dalziel enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17 years old as an infantryman.
Now a team leader for Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, he is responsible for the employment and management of his fire team which involves making complex decisions on the battlefield in a moment’s notice.
In this interview Dalziel, 21, from Germantown, Wis., tells us how he’s training his Marines to be an asset for the 15th MEU.
Q: What inspired you to join the Marine Corps?
A: Most of my family served in the Marines. They kind of tried to steer me away from going infantry because of the dangers of not really knowing what is going to be asked of you, but for me that’s what I liked about it. I want to be there to do anything my country asks of me. My dad was an officer in the Marines, so growing up these were the people I looked up to. I’d say I knew since I was 10 [years old] that I was going to be a Marine.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Just being out here and doing our job. Not many people can say they’ve done the things we do on a daily basis, or shoot the guns we do. Other people’s lives depend on how well we’re able to perform our job, and I’m out here loving it.
Q: You have more responsibility than an average 21 year old. How do you handle the pressure?
A: There are times when it’s one of the most stressful things a 21-year-old can face; just because if you didn’t train your guys to perform to the level they need to they can die, and that is on your hands. You failed them by not pushing them hard or saying, ‘Well today we’re going to take it easy’, or ‘We don’t have to rehearse this’.
Q: What do you demand from the Marines in your fire team?
A: To have confidence in me and have the knowledge to take what I say and build on it; to take the initiative when they see it and to not be dependent on me. I don’t want them to hesitate or to wait for me to tell them to do it.
Q: What do you demand from yourself?
A: To give them my all. If they see me give it everything I have, then they give me everything they got. It makes them want to follow me.
Q: You seem to have a knack for what you do. Did you do something in high school that prepared you for the Marine Corps?
A: I played a lot of sports like wrestling and football, but it didn’t really help me. It’s different being a Marine. There’s a lot more on the line out here.
Q: What is your focus when training your Marines?
A: You hear it said a thousand times throughout your training, ‘brilliance in the basics’. It’s been drilled into me and I drill it into my Marines, because when [things get rough] I don’t ever want my Marines to rise up to the occasion; I want them to revert back to the basics and keep pushing into the fight.
Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of being a grunt?
A: The hardest part is knowing that you’re responsible for your Marines’ lives. It’s stressful, but at the same time you know you’re doing everything you can to train them right.
Q: Do you see yourself making a career of this?
A: Being a grunt is definitely a demanding job on your body, and it kind of makes you feel older than you are, but I can see myself making this a career. I love what we do. I love knowing that I’m teaching Marines and making them better.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about going into the infantry?
A: Don’t do anything you aren’t 100 percent sure about. You really need to want to do this job. I knew this was all I wanted. When my recruiter asked me to list three [military occupational specialties] I’d like to do, I told him infantry and that was it. So if you want to do it, you need to want it.
For the Warrior Wednesday video on Dalziel, visit our YouTube page at: http://youtu.be/WfFRQLftkxU