MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- One Fightertown Marine is learning the true reward for hard work is more hard work, and he is loving every minute of it.
The Rotary Club of Beaufort recently named Cpl. Shareef Muhammad, maintenance management specialist, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the Military Person of the Year from the Air Station.
Muhammad, a log clerk and preventative ground maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge for the Air Station’s logistics department, was selected for his leadership and support of more than a dozen community events, along with numerous ceremonies aboard the Air Station in the last year.
“I accepted the nomination on behalf of all the Marines who worked with me to make those events successful,” Muhammad said. “I could not have done it without them and I was proud to accept the recognition on their behalf. I love seeing Marines recognized for the work they do in the community.”
Even with a dizzying list of upcoming events and ceremonies to support, Muhammad welcomes the work and the reward of working with the community and Marines from all across the Tri-Command area.
“I enjoy the events because we are bridging the gap with the community,” Muhammad said. “We can help locals decide if they want to open their community to us or not through our actions.”
When Muhammad is not at family festivals and retirement ceremonies, he spends his time trying to better himself and his junior Marines. As the Preventative Ground Maintenance NCOIC, Muhammad regularly sees junior Marines rotate in and out of his office every 30 days. Whether they are rebounding from non-judicial punishments, brig time, injury or just on a hiatus from their command, Muhammad aims to make their stay in the S-4 a lasting memory.
“I see a lot of different Marines in a lot of different situations come through our office and not one goes by that I do not try to help,” Muhammad said. “We spend time working on Marine Corps knowledge and physical training. We want every Marine that comes into our office to go out better prepared to be a positive influence in the Marine Corps.”
Muhammad not only focuses on improving the leadership abilities of junior Marines, but also his own. When choosing between authority and persuasion, a combination of both works for most Marines, according to Muhammad.
“I choose to lead by example,” Muhammad said. “There will always be situations where rank matters, but if you can persuade someone to do something, that works out for everyone. A private could lead a platoon if he has the power of persuasion.”
Muhammad juggles his daily tasks with mentoring his junior Marines. After a day of setting up and breaking down chairs, tents and booths, he can be found in his office, sitting in the middle of a school circle, reading Medal of Honor citations.
“I like to show junior Marines that they are the same breed of warrior as the veterans of past wars,” Muhammad said. “I think it is inspiring for someone to say they have that same trust and respect for you.”
In April, Muhammad represented the Air Station at the Marine Corps Air Bases East Meritorious Sergeant’s Board. He placed second in the competition, but if he stays on his present course, picking up rank will be the least of his worries, according to Staff Sgt. James DeLong, logistics chief, MCAS Beaufort.
“He definitely succeeds in his billet and as a mentor to his junior Marines,” Delong said. “He leads by example and is one of the best young NCOs you will find. He always has a ‘can do’ attitude and he instills that leadership value in his Marines everyday.”
Muhammad is an admitted perfectionist when it comes to boards and spends most of his spare time getting ready for his next one.
“The hardest part for me is losing, but the second hardest is uniform preparation,” Muhammad said. “Everything has to be perfect. But even if you’re sharp on everything, you have to have bearing. It is the fundamental trait, a direct representation of discipline, that should be in every Marine.”
The boards are an opportunity to represent himself, his family and his superiors however, they are not his only motivation for self-improvement.
“The money that comes from rank is nice, but I do not focus on it,” Muhammad said. “I want the promotion to sergeant so I can do more for my Marines and the Corps as a whole. I want the added responsibility and abilities that come with rank.”
As Muhammad closes in on his fourth year of active service, he will soon have to decide whether or not he wants to continue down this path.
“I know I want to deploy if I do reenlist,” Muhammad said. “I do not have an urge to chase bullets, but I think if I stay in the Marine Corps, I need to serve my time in the field. We are all riflemen, we should all want the opportunity to prove it.”
Muhammad plans to let his mind, heart and probably even his wife help guide him to the right decision for his future. Until then, he plans to make himself, and everyone around him, better at everything they do.
“I am doing good things here,” Muhammad said. “It feels natural to be here. I always knew the Marine Corps was my calling and now I am proving it every day.”