On June 3 the U.S. Marine Corps awarded a British Royal Marine a Bronze Star for his “instrumental” role as an operations officer with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, according to the Corps.
Royal Marine Maj. James Fuller deployed to Afghanistan on June 1, 2018, as part of the Marine Corps’ Foreign Personnel Exchange Program, which gives officers in the allied military a chance to work side-by-side with their American counterparts, according to a press release.
Fuller volunteered for the exchange program in the hopes of broadening his horizons.
“The assignment involved the deployment to Task Force Southwest,” Fuller told Marine Corps Times in an email. “This meant that I was getting to deploy on operations again which is why I joined up in the first place.”
The commandant also has invited the Canadian Army, and expects the U.S. Army will want a sparring match.
The British commando said once he got down the astounding number of uniquely American military acronyms, and learned how to spell in American English, working with his American counterparts in Afghanistan came naturally.
“We have very similar military planning processes on both sides of the Atlantic which makes it incredibly easy to slot onto either military staff and still understand the plan,” Fuller said in his email, “We might say and write things a bit differently to one another but it’s amazing how similarly minded we all are.”
When Fuller returned from Afghanistan on May 31, 2019, he knew his name was put forward for the Bronze Star, but he said he was still shocked when he learned he would receive the award.
“Without Fuller we couldn’t have done what we did in Afghanistan,” Chief Warrant Officer Michael Presley, the regimental gunner with 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, said in the Corps’ press release.
Fuller has remained with the 2nd Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, since he returned from the deployment. He has noticed a few differences between garrison life in the American Marine Corps to that of the Royal Marines.
“You guys get up early!” he said. “The working day normally starts about 0800 or 0830 back home. It took me a long time to get used to getting up at 0500 or earlier.”
The commando said the intense discipline in the American force is what separates it from any other military branch in the world. He also noted how accomplished the Marine Corps is at finding ways to put the iconic Eagle, Globe and Anchor on everything.
“You really create a common U.S. Marines look and spirit, and everyone loves that,” Fuller said.
The Royal Marines maintain a high level of discipline as well, Fuller stated, but are a bit more relaxed on certain aspects, like haircuts, and have put an emphasis on cheerfulness, he said.
“It was just such a unique opportunity to get to work in a different country and also within a different military force,” Fuller said. “I’d also heard that a few of the previous exchange officers had rented homes on the beach so it seemed like a pretty decent job!”
But beyond the new experiences and a possible beach house, Fuller, who joined the elite British branch after a childhood with “too many James Bond movies and action figures,” said the exchange program gave him another opportunity to return to a combat zone.
Fuller said receiving the award was “incredible.”
“I know they’re not given out lightly which makes it even more humbling that the Task Force and Marines thought I should be recognized like that,” he said.