CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Sweat drips onto the mat, muscles contract and Marines
grit their teeth. The buzzer goes off, the Marines switch positions and the
Marines with 8th Communication Battalion, II Marine
Expeditionary Force, have established a grappling team that travels around
North Carolina competing in U.S. Grappling sponsored tournaments.
“It keeps the Marines in shape,” said SSgt. Luke Hussey,
the staff noncommissioned officer in charge with the team and a communication
security manager with 8th Comm. Bn. “The competition helps you build a good
bond with the Marines and it helps them further their combative mindset as
The vision came from retired Master Sgt. Edward Raimo who
trained the coaches to take over the team. With the dedication of Raimo and the
coaches, the team made a statement immediately. After their first official
tournament in April, the five Marines returned proudly to Camp Lejeune with
nine medals: six gold and three silver.
“I couldn’t ask for any better,” said Hussey, a Robbins,
North Carolina native. “We went up against formal martial arts academies that
have had more time to train than us and like the Marine Corps does, we did more
Members of the team practice together during their lunch
hours if they can, or the coaches will work with them after work hours.
“We are teaching the team basic wrestling and ju-jitsu. We
have a certain style we use which is a more combative style,” said Sgt. Kevin
S. Pelzel, a coach and field wireman with 8th Comm. Bn., and a Savoy, Texas
native. “We don’t do too much sport-type grappling. It’s all about being
combative, staying on top and winning.”
There is no rank bias or prerequisites for joining the team;
anyone is welcome if they are willing to work hard.
“Everyone comes from different backgrounds; some have
high school wrestling backgrounds, some who have trained ju-jitsu prior to
joining the team and even some Marines with no experience but a desire to learn,”
The next step for the team is a tournament in Morrisville,
N.C. this July.
“We have about three months to prepare, we’re taking a
lot of new guys in, so my main mission right now is to give them the
fundamentals they need to go to the tournament and compete successfully,”
Pelzel said. “I would say we have come a long way. We are making progress.”
Pelzel wants the team to make a lasting impression. As
the team continues to train, build and become more successful, they hope to
open the team up to Marines outside of the 8th Comm. Unit.