Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. --
Achieving the rank of a Noncommissioned Officer in the Marine Corps is an important accomplishment for Marines. NCOs are responsible for setting the example for the junior Marines under us and to stay committed to excellence in all that we do, on and off duty.
When a Marine is promoted to NCO, E-4 or E-5, the Noncommissioned officer’s creed is read during the ceremony. The motivational guideline is a rite of passage that reminds us of why we are NCOs.
We should set the proper example and stay committed to excellence as NCOs to make better Marines overall. Junior Marines follow what they are taught and will look up to you as their leader. The creed states “I will demand of myself all the energy, knowledge, and skills I possess, so that I can instill confidence in those I teach,” meaning putting your all towards those under you.
In spring of 2004, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, were out on patrol when their unit was attacked. Cpl. Jason Dunham deliberately covered an enemy grenade with his body to save the Marines around him. Dunham’s selfless act was a direct reflection of the NCO creed. He set the example, and stayed committed to excellence. By using himself as a shield, he showed the core values of the Marine Corps, honor, courage, and commitment. He showed honor by doing such a selfless act, courage by making the decision, and commitment by being so dedicated to his fellow Marines.
As an NCO, I look at Marines like Dunham to help mold myself into a better leader. Staying committed to the Marine Corps isn’t just acts on the battlefield. Remaining in shape and giving your all during a normal work day is setting the example for others, not just for the Marines under you, but also for your peers.
I was pinned as an NCO this January, and it made me realize the importance of my new rank. I used to look at my NCOs and see how hard they worked as corporals and sergeants. I didn’t think I would ever be as good as they were. I wanted to be as sharp and dedicated to the Marine Corps as my drill instructors. Their uniforms were always neat and crisp looking, and they could run off of nothing but motivation.
How do I be a leader? How would I ever be as good as the Marines before me?
It’s easier said than done to be the example. Of course not every Marine can be Dunham, but as NCOs, we can take what we learn from our illustrious line of predecessors, and teach it to the future generation of the Marine Corps.
Driving along the highway I’ve seen Marine Corps advertisements stating “we only take commitments”, just as the NCO creed states, we should remain committed to excellence. As an NCO I should strive to be the best Marine I can be now more than ever. The junior Marines under me are hungry to take my spot once I move on with my career, so I must set the example now, showing them what is expected of a Marine, and teach them to have the same mentality as Dunham, or their motivated drill instructors from basic training, to be committed to excellence.