State of the NCO Corps November 2012

State of the NCO Corps November 2012

Greetings Marines!

After a busy month, it’s time to head to the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, where we can stay warm just off the hot air from all the No (Spit) There We Was stories, and in spite of local hunting season, the grounds are full of wildlife because nobody wants to see if the large signs all around the place that say, No Hunting -Firing into this property is likely to draw massive return fire- If you can read this, you’re in range, are a joke.

As I write this, cleanup and relief efforts continue in the US in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and one question I have been asked by several of you when disaster strikes so many is “What can I do to help?”. Truthfully, the best thing you can do is send money to well organized relief agencies such as the Red Cross, but what if, like so many of us, your own funds are limited?

This is where AIO (Adapt, Improvise, Overcome) should be your watchword. Almost all of us do something for fun with friends. Find a way to turn that fun activity into some sort of fundraiser for disaster relief, or any charity you want to support. Think outside the box, and you might be surprised what you can do. And, don’t be discouraged if what you raise seems like a tiny drop in a very large bucket. Those tiny drops can add up fast (as anyone with a leaky roof can tell you).

One very simple idea (assuming the weather permits) is to simply have you and your friends clear out some of their clutter and hold a garage or yard sale, with all the proceeds going to the cause of your choice. (and who knows, you might even be able to do a bit of recruiting in the process)

Feel free to pass on your own ideas to me, and I’ll share some of them in this space in the future. And, don’t forget to pass the news of your activities up the line in your reports so you can get the recognition the SFMC likes to give for those efforts. R&D is still working on that Omniscience Module, but for now the only way the Corps has to know about what you’re doing is those reports every unit files.

As I’m fond of reminding you- no matter how small your local community is, if you look around you’ll probably find a way to put in a couple of hours or so every once in a while giving someone who needs it a hand, and from where I sit, that’s the essence of community service.

With winter coming on, I would like to ask you to do what you can to help those who need warmer clothing. Remember HUGS (hats, gloves, underwear, socks)

Next month, I will be going through the BDE reports from my sample and getting another data point on my ongoing project to estimate and track the number of enlisted members of the SFMC, which I still estimate to be about 25 percent, based on the sample, One of my goals for 2013 is to finally find a way to reduce the labor involved in this task, but to be honest, that probably won’t be happening until SFI gets a new database.

But, there is another project I have in the works, and I’m going to be needing your help. SGM Mark Polanis (SGM TRACOM) and I are working on a “recruiting video” and we need images of enlisted members of STARFLEET doing ” well” just about everything you do- community service, attending events, or just having fun with your fellow members of STARFLEET. Uniforms are optional. (Clothing is not. The market research I did on the SFMC NCO Swimsuit Calendar was discouraging at best.) We ask that you email your photos to us (as always, larger and higher resolution images are preferred, but we’ll take anything you want to send us) at the usual email addresses (found on the shiny new SFMC website- hat tip to BGEN Joe Brouhard, our hardworking COINFOCOM), and please include a list of who is in the photo so we can properly label it. SGM Polanis and I have a Plan, but it’s going to take a fair number of images to make work.

Here in the US, Thanksgiving is coming up, and I’d like to take this time to thank each and every one of you for the enthusiasm and esprit de corps that you show in places like the SFMC Facebook group and the Corps-l list. As some of you know, in real life my disability and my isolated place of residence means I don’t have as much face to face interaction with my fellow STARFLEET Marines as I would like. So, that communication and interaction means a great deal to me, and I am sure there are others in similar situations that value it as much as I do. Keep up the good work, Marines!

Speaking of communication, please remember that 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, When it comes to the importance of clear orders and proper lines of communication, you’d have trouble finding a better example of how a lack of these can lead to disaster than the charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. But, in spite of that, there is no denying the courage of the troops involved.

When the Victoria Cross was established as Britain’s highest award for valor ‘in the face of the enemy in 1856, Queen Victoria awarded a total of nine medals for that battle. Six of those went to members of the Light Brigade. Five of those VCs were given to enlisted troopers (three of them for the same action – see below), and the sole officer so honored, Colonel Alexander Dunn of the 11th Hussars (all of 21 at the time), earned his for actions which saved the life of a sergeant (he took on two Cossacks attacking the sergeant from behind).

In the initial charge, Captain Webb of the 17th Lancers was hit and mortally wounded. Troop Sergeant-Major John Berryman saw that his Captain was unable to remain in the saddle, tried to lift him out, and sent LT Percy Smith of the 13th Light Dragoons off with his horse to get a stretcher while Berryman remained with the wounded officer, ignoring the urging of Captain Webb to save himself. He was soon joined by Sergeant John Farrell of the 17th, whose horse had been shot out from under him. The two NCOs stayed with the wounded officer as the battle raged, and then Lance Sergeant Joseph Malone of the 13th, who had also been dismounted in the battle came upon them. The three sergeants remained with Captain Webb for some time while heavy fighting raged around them, and then worked together to carry him back to their own lines, despite the extreme risk to themselves as the rest of the Light Brigade retreated around them and the enemy continued to pour fire into the field.

Captain Webb died of his wounds shortly thereafter, but the courage and devotion to duty of the three NCOs who stayed by him and then carried him off the field was undeniable. After the Crimean War, all three remained in the service. Berryman rose to the rank of Major, and died in Surrey in 1896 at the age of 70. Malone was appointed a Riding Master in 1858 (later upgraded to Captain) and died at the age of 50 in South Africa. Farrell rose to the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant, and was killed in action in India in 1865 at the age of 39.

But all three men would be forever joined by that day at Balaclava, where in the chaos of a battle gone wrong, they upheld the ideal of “Service before Self” as they attempted to rescue a wounded officer instead of saving themselves.

Semper Fi!

MGSGT Jerome A. ” Gunny Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the Starfleet Marines