State of the NCO Corps July 2013
Please join me in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, where a guy can relax after having to deal with Marines of various ranks who apparently need be told to not to put their shoes and socks on in THAT order and the new cook‘s very popular “Semper Fi Chili” requires a signed medical release before digging into it and maybe a crash truck from the nearest airfield standing by to foam down your mouth. (I think we have a “keeper” here, folks.)
Since the official title of this report is the “State of the NCO Corps”, let’s take a minute to discuss just that. You may recall that I have been tracking a sample consisting of several brigade rosters and used that sample to support an estimate that approximately 25 percent of the SFMC held enlisted rank. On the very last day of June, the DepDant sent me a little present: a data dump that listed every current STARFLEET Marine in the database by rank. A quick pass through the data showed that in this mostly complete sample (I’ll get to the “mostly” part), the actual number of enlisted Marines amounted to (drum roll please) …. 23.5 percent of the total!
Now, there are a couple of caveats here. The first is to remember that not everybody listed in the unit, battalion, and brigade reports is shown in the database as a Marine, either active or reserve. Despite what some people think, it’s NOT a requirement for STARFLEET members that are part of SFMC units to be listed as a Marine in the database. So, the data dump probably missed some folks that could conceivably had a measurable impact on the totals. The other caveat is that this is a “moving target” – the numbers could shift a bit on a daily basis. And, in spite of some Herculean efforts by CompOps (STARFLEET Computer Operations, for those who don‘t bother to read things like the STARFLEET Membership Handbook), there are some wrinkles in the current database that still need ironing out. But, thanks to this comprehensive data, as a general, round number to use in planning purposes and discussion, it’s fairly safe to assume right now that, Corps wide, about one STARFLEET Marine in four holds an enlisted rank. (and with the SFMC making up around a quarter of STARFLEET membership, that means about one STARFLEET member in sixteen is an enlisted Marine.)
While going over the Honor Award nominees, I was very pleased to note that enlisted Marines weren’t just showing up in the Star nominations. It’s a measure of the strong enlisted presence in the SFMC these days that their presence reaches beyond our highest “enlisted only” award. My somewhat battered old eight point is off to all enlisted members of the SFMC for inspiring me every day, and to the fine officers giving you a chance to succeed. Bravo Zulu (Well Done)!
As I seldom fail to remind you: community service need not be something big or labor intensive. You don’t have to support a major cause or a relief effort. Just giving someone who needs it a hand now and then meets the spirit of the SFMC’s involvement in community service.
Lately, I’ve also been reminding you that we should be having fun doing this. So, with my tongue mostly in cheek … Marines … every time you ask a question whose answer is clearly in The Book, or answer a question without looking in The Book to be sure you’re right, some reasonably omnipotent being somewhere in the universe takes a completely innocent little adorable puppy, fluffy bunny, or playful kitten, or their alien equivalent, and cruelly promotes them to “butter bar“. Please, Marines … think of the puppies, bunnies, and kittens (and alien equivalents)! Check the current Marine Force Manual (MFM) FIRST …
On a disappointed note, the “recruiting video” that SGM Polanis and I have been working on is not going to be ready for a few months yet, due to the fact that we’re still twisting arms to get enough suitable images to use in it. (Yep, a HINT) We’ll try to have it done before the end of the year.
As always, the SFMC General Staff needs your input and ideas in order to properly do our jobs. Don’t hesitate to contact the appropriate GS member with your questions, comments and ideas. You can find all the email addresses at the SFMC website, and, of course, we monitor the Corps-l list, and the SFMC Facebook group.
Now it’s time for Top’s History Lesson. If you go by all the fictional accounts out there, from comic books to novels to movies and TV series, NCOs, and particularly Marine NCOs of any nation are supposed to pretty much define “Tough” and “Professional”. I’ve told the stories of many real world NCOs who lived up to that billing in this space over the past few years, but, I could make a pretty good case for one US Marine Technical Sergeant – Harold Edward Wilson – being placed somewhere around the top of that list.
Wilson had enlisted in the USMC Reserve in 1942, and had served 27 months in the Pacific during World War 2, without anything of note happening. Discharged from active service in 1945 as a sergeant, he re-entered the Reserves in 1947, and he got recalled to active duty after the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, serving as a Platoon Sergeant in the First Marine Division.
At Chosin Reservoir, he was wounded, and received the first of an eventual FIVE awards of the Purple Heart. Not long afterward, for “fearless and untiring leadership” of his platoon in several engagements in March of 1951, during a United Nations counteroffensive, he was awarded the Bronze Star. But it was on the night of April 23-24 1951 that he showed just how tough and professional he truly was.
During a furious night attack, his company outpost was overrun by an enemy force supported from high ground with heavy weapons. Wilson braved that storm of fire to rally his troops, get them back into the line of hastily dug foxholes to return fire, and make sure the wounded were seen to. He was hit twice, but refused treatment, continuing to encourage his Marines and direct the defense. He was hit two more times, and his arms were pretty much useless. But, unable to fight himself, he dragged ammunition and spare rifles from other wounded Marines to members of his platoon that COULD still fight. He managed to get to his CO, and got some help for his platoon, and then still stayed with them, directing what became a murderously effective defense.
A mortar shell blew him right off his feet, but, dazed, bleeding, and concussed, he refused treatment again, and moved from foxhole to foxhole, dragging ammunition, directing fire, offering first aid, and encouraging his men. When the attack finally broke in the morning, he personally accounted for each and every member of his platoon before WALKING, unassisted, half a mile to an aid station to finally receive submit to medical treatment.
The citation for the Medal of Honor awarded to him in April of 1952 notes that his courage and example “in the face of almost certain death” were “ contributing factors in the success of his company’s mission.” Wilson was promoted to Master Sergeant in 1951 , and then became a Warrant Officer in August of 1952. He stayed in the Corps, serving in various roles, including Adjutant at the Marine Corps Engineer Schools in 1962, and served with Marine Aircraft Group 13 during the Vietnam War before being assuming the post of 6th Marine Corps District Personnel Officer in November of 1968. He finally retired from the Marine Corps in February of 1972.
Chief Warrant Officer Harold E Wilson passed away in March of 1998 at the age of 76. He rests in Lexington, South Carolina in Woodbridge Memorial Park. If you’re ever in the area, please stop by and pay my respects to one of the toughest and most professional NCOs I have ever heard of.
MGSGT Jerome A. “ Gunny Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the STARFLEET Marines