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Sun., Aug. 30
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Massena Marine thankful for support received from hometown


MASSENA - When Lance Cpl. Steven M. Gall was stationed with the U.S. Marine Corps overseas in Afghanistan, he said it was nice to know that he had friends and family back home thinking about him while he was away.

“I got a lot of support from them. I was lucky because I had a big fan club back here in Massena, and I got a lot of care packages and letters from them,” Mr. Gall said, from his home in Massena while on leave.

Mr. Gall, who is the son of Dorothy and the late Marty Gall, will be returning on Sunday to Hazlock, N.C., where he’s stationed at Terry Point.

All of the support he received while away helped to make his time overseas a lot easier, he said.

“It’s a very big moral boost,” he said. “It helps you get by. When your family tells you they’re sending you something, it gives you something to look forward to and it makes the time fly by faster.”

Mr. Gall was in Afghanistan from March 17 to Sept. 17, “exactly six months,” he said.

While overseas, he worked “with the wing” as a bulk fuel specialist.

Explaining his job, Mr. Gall said there are two types of bulk fuel specialists, those who work on the “ground side” and those who work with “the wing.”

Ground side specialists work to fuel up convoys made up of ground vehicles, while those working on the wing, as expected, work with the helicopters and planes, filling them with fuel and setting up “tactical fuel farms” for them to use.

His time in Afghanistan though wasn’t without conflict.

“I did encounter several indirect fire attacks,” he said. “It’s pretty scary.”

Although being fired upon is scary, Mr. Gall said he has little recollection of those incidents.

“Most of the time you can’t remember anything that happened because Marine Corps mode kicks in and you go right into you training,” he said.

That consisted up suiting up in Kevlar gear and going into a bunker “until everyone is accounted for.”

When asked if he was glad to be back home, Mr. Gall said he was “ecstatic,” but noted he would gladly return to Afghanistan again if he had the opportunity.

“I actually had a good time over there, and I do want to go back sometime soon,” he said.

Despite being stationed in North Carolina, Mr. Gall’s first deployment actually came as a member of the 2nd Marine Air Wing’s NWSS-273 unit from Buford, S.C.

“They didn’t have enough people to go over there so a group of us from North Carolina volunteered,” he said, adding his unit was called the “Sweat Hogs.”

By volunteering for deployment, Mr. Gall said he put the ball in his court.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer and not be told, ‘You’re going,’” he said. “I can say I helped make a difference,and I can say I did my part.”

He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in December 2010, six months after graduating from Massena High School.

“I couldn’t imagine being in the Marines without being deployed at least once,” he said, adding, “If another opportunity comes up, I would volunteer for that too.”

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