State of the NCO Corps December 2015
Stamp the snow off your boots and come on over to the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, where the coffee may occasionally taste like burnt hydraulic fluid, but at least it’s always hot, and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care in hopes that they’ll dry out before we have to return to our duty stations.
It’s been noted that I often answer questions by simply citing “chapter and verse” from the MFM, SFMC Policy Manual, or, occasionally, simply quoting appropriate official SFMC communications, such as posts from the Dant. It’s not that I don’t have opinions of my own, but one of those strongly held opinions is the best way to answer a question is to take the time to check and see if it’s something already officially addressed. If it has been, then there’s really not much more that needs to be said.
Or, to put it another way, and at a one hundred percent risk of repeating myself … 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 …
As the year winds down, I’d like to remind you all to be sure that your unit OIC passes information on your participation in the Commandant’s Campaign up the line. “If you don’t report it, we can’t reward it” comes to mind. And, as a note touching a bit closer to my own office, remember that the March for the Disabled was extended to cover the entire year by action of the Dant. If you’re not sure if something you’ve done qualifies for recognition under that campaign, get in touch with me ASAP and ask..
At least in this neck of the woods, winter weather has officially reported for duty, and that brings up two points as far as community service is concerned. The first is something I’ve been endorsing for years now, namely seeing what you can do in your own community about helping out those who may need warmer clothing to deal with the cold. It’s often not just a matter of being more comfortable, it could literally help someone survive. Remember HUGS: Hats, Underwear, Gloves, Socks. These are often in short supply, and sorely needed.
The second is a little less obvious, and concerns the “community” that we are all a part of: STARFLEET in general and the STARFLEET Marines in particular. Bitterly cold weather can affect all of us, and there’s often not a lot we can do about it. One thing we CAN do is check up on each other, or simply let folks know we’re doing ok. It may not earn you another star on your Community Service ribbon, but it may just set some of your fellow STARFLEET Marines’ minds at ease. If we can’t help each other, I’m not sure how much real help we are to others.
Remember, community service doesn’t have to be any part of any organized charity effort. Just giving of your time and energy to someone who needs a hand is the spirit of community service. Whatever you do, make sure that whoever is filing the report for your unit knows the details, and sends it up the Chain of Command in their official report so you can be given the recognition your efforts deserve. Again … “If you don’t report it, we can’t reward it.”
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. I’ve told this one before, and odds are I’ll tell it again. To me, it is not only one of the bright spots in history, but it’s a little beacon of hope for the future. And, I guess it’s become sort of a tradition for me for my December report, and tradition is important to Marines of any country or era.
By November of 1914, trenches stretched from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier, As December came around, heads of state on both sides of World War One, and even the power of the Vatican had proven unable to negotiate some sort of cease fire for Christmas. But, on Christmas Eve 1914, for a time , the guns fell silent in many areas along the Western Front in a spontaneous mass act of human decency by roughly a hundred thousand soldiers on both sides of the trenches that has become known as the Christmas Truce. The generals and leaders on both sides had no part in it- it was driven by the actions of common soldiers in the front lines- who gave their enemies leave to search for and bury their dead without fear, and even shared precious small luxuries from home.
They discovered that they knew many of the same Christmas songs – just with different words, and they sang them together. They shared pictures of their families, and despite the language barrier, they managed to get along. In at least one spot along the lines, they even improvised a soccer field and played a spirited game.
In the middle of a terrible war, they found time for “Peace on Earth – Good Will to Men” … and perhaps saw the soldiers on the other side as people not much different from themselves.
It wasn’t universal, of course, and the “Good Will” was sometimes just restricted to recovering their dead without being shot at by the other side. But , even then, it was a bit of a respite from a bad situation that would come to grow even worse as the war went on.
Needless to say, the high commands of both sides were a bit concerned about all this “fraternizing with the enemy”, and stern orders were passed down the Chain of Command. Soon, everybody was back in their own trenches, and the “War to End All Wars” resumed. To give credit where credit is due, the politicians and generals tried to arrange a similar truce in 1915, but the war had gotten even uglier and nothing came of it. The unlikely series of events that led to the Christmas Truce never happened again.
If the Christmas Truce of 1914 teaches us anything, it’s perhaps that the person best able to treat those around us well is staring back at us every time we look in the mirror.
Please accept my best wishes for the season, and my hopes for a good 2016.
In service and in friendship,
MGSGT Jerome A. “ Gunny Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the STARFLEET Marines firstname.lastname@example.org]]>