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Corporals win board, earn F/A-18 ride

By Cpl. Micah Snead | | May 19, 2005

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Two Hawks of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 533 recently jumped from the flight line to the cockpit of the F/A-18 Hornets they maintain.Corporals Matthew J. Watson, a safety equipment mechanic, and Bross Page, a mechanic and plane captain, received incentive flights May 19, for winning separate Marine Aircraft Group-level Marine of the Quarter boards.The Marines did not know they were going to receive the flights, according to Watson.“We just try to get on and win every board we can,” said Watson, a Panama City, Fla., native. “We didn’t know when we walked into the room that the winner would get an incentive flight, but we found out after we won. I was pretty excited, because when I checked into the squadron I said that I would do whatever it took to get a backseat ride.”Both Marines are on their first enlistments and worked to make an impact as soon as they joined the Hawks.“After being here long enough, our superiors started to see how much we worked at everything,” said Page, a Mobile, Ala., native. “Word would trickle up from my corporals and sergeants that they had confidence in me, my knowledge and abilities. Before long, I was competing on boards.”Both Marines enjoy competing on the boards and see each one as a challenge, according to Page.“Boards let you see how you stack up against other Marines in your squadron,” Page said. “If you can stand out as the best of your squadron, you get to compete against the best of the MAG and so on. It’s like you’re constantly pushing yourself and the Marines around you to be better.”Representing your squadron and even MAG can serve as a reward and incentive for others, according to Watson.“The sense of pride for winning a board is very strong, especially when you get an extra incentive like a backseat ride,” Watson said. “The recognition of winning a board and having your picture up gives lower ranks a goal, and everyone who works these jets thinks about winning a ride. “A lot of Marines get jealous and use that as motivation to work harder. I remember seeing a Marine get a backseat ride and I got jealous as hell. I pushed myself on knowledge, uniforms, everything, because I wanted that ride so bad.”Boards also help recognize Marines who continuously work to improve themselves, not just while they’re on the clock, according to Page.“You can’t just do your job and head home, you have to be well-rounded,” Page said. “There are other things in the Corps besides your job you should excel at, like knowledge, training, uniform maintenance. Usually Marines winning boards are trying to excel at everything.”Motivation and luck set the two Hawks apart from their peers, according to Watson.“That is really all that makes us different,” Watson said. “A lot of Marines work really hard. We just work really hard and sacrifice where others don’t.”According to Page, the hard work is paying off now, in the form of subordinate Marines who are learning from his example.“I worked hard to get where I am now,” Page said. “But, now that I am running a crew of Marines, I depend on them and they have responded by busting their butts, which makes me look good. It also makes me very proud of them.“If we can get more flight hours done and accomplish the mission, we’re doing okay. A reward like a backseat ride just makes you stop and think how good you’ve got it.”
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