SALOA, Spain -- Some people took pictures and said hello; some just stared.
It was hard for Sgt. Pierce Brown and Petty Officer 3rd Class David Logan to really go anywhere without being noticed.
That was the point, said Brown, as he walked with Logan down a sidewalk in Salua, Spain wearing his class "charlie" uniform, a tan shirt with green slacks.
Logan was wearing his summer whites, the traditional Sailor's uniform. Across each of their left arms was a black brassard with the yellow letters SP: Shore Patrol.
"We're out here to watch out for other (Marines and Sailors)," said Brown, a Chicago native and radio operator with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). "When they see this uniform they know we're taking care of our own."
Which is exactly the point of the shore patrol, an integrated force of Marines from the 26th MEU(SOC) and Sailors from the USS Saipan Amphibious Ready Group.
Whenever service members from any of the three ships from the Saipan ARG visit a port, that ship dispatches a shore patrol.
"We're not cops," said Logan, a Morganton, N.C., native. "We're all the same. We're just watching their backs."
Though there are certain Marines and Sailors designated as permanent shore patrol, the various sections with the 26th MEU(SOC) and Saipan ARG provide the majority of its members on a rotational basis. For example, a Marine or Sailor could serve on the shore patrol only once or twice throughout and entire deployment.
Though they're on patrol to watch out for service members' safety, Brown added they might also be called to serve as enforcers.
"If some Marines are getting out of control, then we're going to put them on a bus and send them back," he said. "If this happens, they can lose liberty for the rest of the port, maybe even the next. If we see something starting, we're here to stop it before it turns into a problem."
Logan said local law enforcement has been very receptive to the shore patrol. "They see what we're out here doing," he said. "They appreciate it that we're not just pulling our ship up, dropping everyone on off and asking them to look after people."
According to Cpl. Jorge A. Gomezsosa, 26th MEU(SOC) logistics Marine, his experience with shore patrol showed also him there was more to the duty than just walking the streets.
"I was told I would be used as a translator," said the Spanish speaking McAllen, Texas native. "If anything were to happen with one of our guys involving the local police, it was my job to help communicate."
Fortunately, it was something he never had to do. If the shore patrol keeps its pace, he'll never have to.
With two port visits completed, neither the Saipan ARG nor the 26th MEU(SOC) have had any major incidents.
"We've went to some pretty big places. A lot could have happened there," said Col. Kenneth Glueck Jr., 26th MEU(SOC) Commanding Officer as he addressed a group of Marines after liberty. "We made it through with flying colors. I'm proud of all of you."