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Combat engineer serves for duty, family, satisfaction

Name: Cpl. Corey Rogers

Age: 23

Hometown: Loda, Ill.

Branch: Marines

Job: Combat engineer

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CAMP CHESTY, central Iraq—Cpl. Corey Rogers keeps track of the missions on his T-shirt.

On his shoulder it says, "Convoy Club: 13." After every convoy, he adds another mark with a pen.

"We pretty much got told we will be security on all the convoys, all of them, anywhere," he says.

In a two-week period, he has driven 790 miles through Iraq.

Some are quick, three-hour trips, but others last up to 10 hours as he stands watch behind a massive machine gun.

"There is a lot of desert," he says and smiles. "I had a different image of what we would be doing. I didn't know we'd be traveling like this."

Rogers mans a 240 Gulf, an accurate, powerful machine gun, but after a few weeks in the desert he hadn't fired it, so he went to a firing range. He found out it's not as accurate as he thought when shot from the top of the Humvee.

"We have it jerry-rigged, on a tripod mounted on the top of the Hummer," he says. "We have to put up a better platform, because when you lean into it, you can move it all around the target. It's just sitting on the canvas. It's not sturdy."

Rogers joined the Marines in May 1999 on the advice of his grandfather, J.R. Herriott.

"My grandpa always told me that he thought it was everybody's duty to serve their country," Rogers says. "Everybody in my family has been in the Air Force: both my grandfathers, my dad, my brother, my great-grandpa. They didn't pressure me into it. He just told me that everybody should serve their country. My grandpas told me some stories, but they never told me the day-to-day routine."

So why did he join the Marines?

"I wanted to do it right," he says. "The Marines have given me some pretty good leadership and discipline. I've been in some pretty crappy situations here. You eat crappy food and it's hard work and you are expected to do the job. It's like construction. When I was roofing, I did the same thing."

Rogers is a combat engineer with Charlie Company Engineers, 6th Engineer Support Battalion. "I just like to build stuff and go out shooting sometimes," he says. "And I like to blow stuff up. It's a new experience."

Roberts recently graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in construction management, but he wants to become a police officer.

He's pretty sure he'll be able to land a job, being a veteran and having a college degree. He was trying to land a job in Madison, Wis., when he was activated.

"I was supposed to take the physical test the day after we got activated," he says. "I had to call them and tell them that I wasn't going to take it. They said it's fine. They said the written test score will stand, but I have to fill out the application. They said I did pretty good on it."

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(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

ILLUSTRATION (from KRT Illustration Bank, 202-383-6064): IRAQFACES+ROGERS

Iraq

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