Marine returns to island home, trains local law enforcement
IRAI, Republic of Palau -- A lot can be said about a bedtime story and the impact it can have on the imagination of a child.
For many of us at a young age, tales of fictitious characters like “Peter Pan” or “Jack and the Beanstalk” would make us dream we could one day live out such extraordinary adventures as they did.
For one boy from Ngaraard, Palau, bedtime stories were not about fighting pirates or giants. This boy was told stories of combat and the U.S. Marines at the Battle of Peleliu.
That boy was Milton Donatus, and the stories his grandmother told him as a child spawned a lifelong dream to become a U.S. Marine.
“Every time my grandmother would talk about war, the Marines came up,” said Donatus, the training chief with Combat Logistics Detachment 379, Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “The Marines were always talked about as the saviors and the best (warriors) ever, so growing up I didn’t know about any other military. I only knew about the Marines, and that I wanted to be one.”
Shortly after graduating high school in 1995, Donatus moved to Guam to pursue his dream, and in May 2000 he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Now a staff sergeant, his career has brought him aboard the USNS Sacagawea as part of exercise T-AKE 14-2.
T-AKE 14-2 is a maritime pre-positioned force, multi-country theater security cooperation event that deploys from Okinawa to conduct training exercises.
Palau national law enforcement officers and Marines with the CLD 379 completed live-fire training with the M9A1 9 mm service pistol Sept. 16 in Irai, Palau.
The training, led by Donatus, taught the Palauan law enforcement officers the fundamentals of combat marksmanship with the weapon to include loading, clearing and firing procedures.
“The training went according to plan,” said Donatus. “The national police showed up eager to learn. They left with a good image of what the Marines stood for and a knowledge that they will carry on with them throughout their careers as police officers.”
For the law enforcement officers of Palau, the opportunity to train with the U.S. Marines and receive instruction from a native was special, according to Fave Ngiramengior, from Koror, Palau.
“It was a great opportunity to get to train with the U.S. Marines,” said Ngiramengior, a police officer with Palau’s Patrol Division. “The last time we were able to shoot was two years ago, so getting to learn from the Marines and especially a local in the Marines was very nice.”
While participating in the training, the positive effect of Donatus on the Palauan police officers was evident, according to Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Barr, from Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
“One thing I noticed during the training was how the police officers gravitated to him,” said Barr, the company gunnery sergeant for the detachment. “Whenever he was instructing them, they paid close attention and really took in what he said.”
The chance to come home and participate in this training was a very meaningful experience, according to Donatus.
“It feels good and it means a lot to me to come back in this situation,” said Donatus. “I was not a wealthy kid growing up, so people kind of always looked at me thinking that I wouldn’t amount to anything. Being able to come back with a different life is just awesome because it gives me a chance to show everyone who grew up where I did that there is hope.”