Sergeant's Lesson: Building Leaders of Marines
by USMC Sgt. Lisa R. Strickland - July 21, 2011
|MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (7/15/2011) - June 6 marked 93 years since the famous World War I battle at Belleau, France. The Marines of 4th Marine Brigade fought with unprecedented gusto through the wheat fields of the small French villages, such as Bouresches, Lucy-le-Bocage and Belleau.|
Retired Col. Dick Camp, author of “The Devil Dogs at Belleau Wood,” speaks with, left to right, Sgts. Ricardo Quintanilla, Brandon McCormick and Jarred Bluecoat about Marines who fought in the World War I battle at Belleau Wood. A select group of sergeants and one corpsman from 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing studied the Vietnam veteran's book prior to visiting the battlegrounds in Belleau, France, July 4-8, 2011.
Photo by USMC Sgt. Lisa R. Strickland
| ||The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing put together a group of 42 sergeants, one corpsman, three sergeants major and one lieutenant colonel for the first 2nd MAW noncommissioned officers' staff ride to Belleau Wood. Second MAW commanding general Maj. Gen. Jon M. Davis purposely chose sergeants to attend the trip to separate them from the corporals to, one, give them a reward for being the top sergeant in their squadron, two, open the lines of communication between sergeants in the wing, and three, help build strong leaders of Marines.|
I was fortunate enough to join the 41 2nd MAW sergeants picked to go on the unique trip, and it was a profound experience that I will never forget.
Before this trip, I only really knew what my drill instructors in boot camp taught me about the battle of Belleau Wood. I had never been to Europe and was excited about the trip and to learn more about how the Marine Corps earned its reputation and title of Devil Dog.
|Once I set foot on the hallowed ground it was an unexpected experience. To see the 93-year old trenches and stand among the thousands of crosses, each marking a life lost in those gruesome battles was just haunting.|
|The first day in France, we visited the Aisne-Marne Cemetery and Memorial. Inside the Chapel the walls are carved with the names of those who were never found or identified, 1,060 names total.|
It was breathtaking to think that each one of those names, which covered the wall from floor to ceiling, was a man who died there 93 years ago; each who had a mother and a father, maybe a wife, maybe kids. They fought courageously and believed in what they were doing.
We also toured the many battlegrounds passing the rolling hills of Belleau, France, which were a patchwork of green and tan; some fields growing wheat like those of 1918.
I stood there and imagined the determined men wading through the waist-high wheat, parting the fields like a boat in water with machine gun fire spraying across the field, snapping overhead. To stand where Marines such as Sgt. Maj. Daniel Joseph “Dan” Daly, two-time Medal of Honor recipient, stood and led Marines to the fight was a surreal experience.
Those men were the mold breakers of the Marine Corps who helped shape what it means to be a Marine today.
Reading and hearing the stories of the Marines who fought in 1918, I was also reminded of the love Marines have for their fellow Marines. Those Marines took care of each other and died for each other. In my opinion that love hasn't changed.
All the sergeants were asked what they learned on the trip and what they planned to take back to their units.
I want to encourage my junior Marines to build leadership qualities no matter their rank. I want to influence them to be decisive and confident in their decisions. I want to also make sure that through my leadership and actions that they know I care about them.
It's easy to require the mission to get done and forget to check on your Marines; make sure they are okay and know, without a doubt, that someone cares about them. I want to make sure my Marines don't doubt it.
Sgt. Maj. Thomas E. Sherwood of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron recently asked a room full of NCOs, what is a perfect corporal? All of us stared at him blankly. Did he want us to spout off all the characteristics of an affective NCO?
“A sergeant,” Sherwood answered before anyone got the courage to stand up and give their best guess.
Getting face time with other sergeants across the wing is difficult. However, on this trip I was surrounded by fellow “perfect corporals.” I learned a lot from the sergeants throughout the staff ride. Some are better at remembering orders and regulations; others have a knack for public speaking and gathering their Marines for on-the-spot PMEs, but I learned something new from each one, and I plan to use those lessons to become a better leader of Marines.
|By USMC Sgt. Lisa R. Strickland, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing & Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point|
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