State of the NCO Corps November 2013

State of the NCO Corps November 2013

Greetings Marines!

Let’s take a break from beating our heads against a wall (because it feels so good when we stop), and head on over to the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, where the coffee isn’t anything special, but if you pour it in your boots, it’ll not only warm up your feet, it’s pretty much guaranteed to get rid of that toe fungus you picked up on (Redacted), and “Failure to Promptly Close the (REALLY redacted) Pneumonia Hole” can result in anything from a dirty look to buying a round for the house (or being forced to drink the coffee for persistent offenders.)

With one STARFLEET administration winding down and a new one getting ready to step up, now is probably a good time to touch on a tender subject – “burn out”. It’s a simple truth that every one of us, no matter what rank we hold in the SFMC, is doing this in our spare time. It’s a hobby, not a full time job. Some of us (and, yes, I’m looking into the mirror when I say that) aren’t really good at saying “Thanks, but, no thanks” when we’re approached to take something on. Always remember to measure your desire to help out against your own Real Life. This isn’t the STARFLEET Martyr’s Collective, after all.

But, that does present a problem for all of us – namely getting folks trained up to replace those who need to take a break. While some of that training can be addressed by the General Staff creating more “entry level” positions, a lot of the leaders of the SFMC of tomorrow are right now asking their unit OIC “So, what do you need me to do?” In other words, that training starts at the unit/chapter level. Further opportunities can be found at the Brigade/Battalion level of the SFMC. There are a lot of billets for folks to show they can handle responsibility if given a chance. We just have to identify and encourage those individuals. That starts with all of us, from the newest Recruit all the way up to the Dant.

So, if you’re feeling burnt out, start looking around for someone to train up on your job. Maybe they CAN’T do it as well as you can, but with a little help from you, they can get up to speed. If one of your fellow STARFLEET Marines starts complaining that it’s not fun any more, perhaps you can help them find the fun again.

To that end, I would like to take a moment and personally thank my own unit, the 503rd Marine Strike Group (The Spartans), and in particular, 503rd Remote Detachment One (The Big Sky Buzzards) for keeping life weird enough that I may not always be on top of my game, but at least I find the occasional thing to grin about.

Moving on, I’d like to remind you about a community service idea that I’ve been endorsing for a few years now. With the coming of cold weather, there are going to be many people in need of warmer clothing that they can’t afford. I’d take it as a personal favor if you could turn some of your creativity and energy towards seeing what you can do about that in your own community. A key word to remember is HUGS: Hats, Underwear, Gloves, Socks. These are often in short supply, and sorely needed.

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.

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. It’s a simple fact that without a ground crew to keep the birds fueled, armed, and in working condition, no air arm can function. So, although he didn’t see much “action”, there’s no doubt in my mind that when Harold Jellicoe (“Coe”) Percival served as a ground crewman for the RAF’s Bomber Command performed a valuable service during World War Two, and was just as much a hero as anyone with a rifle in the front lines. There’s not much else to say about his life, but Percival performed one last service for his country when he died in late October of 2013 at the age of 99.

The local paper ran a short obituary, and prominently featured in it was the following: “A single man, Harold has no close family who can attend his funeral. He served in RAF Bomber Command as ground crew during the Second World War. Any service personnel who can attend his funeral service would be appreciated.”

Those words struck a few nerves, and a few folks on Facebook and Twitter wondered aloud if maybe folks shouldn’t do something to honor this man. Among them was Sergeant Rick Clement, who had lost both of his legs to an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. His post was simple and to the point: “I need a big favour from any military or ex-serving members. This fallen soldier at 99-years-old is having a funeral on Monday and he has no family to attend.

If you’re in the area give him the send off he deserves.

This guy needs and deserves your help.”

On Monday, November 11, 2013, on a chilly, rainy day, over three HUNDRED people, both military and civilians, both young and old, gathered at Lytham Park Crematorium to pay their respects to a man who had seemingly had no one to mourn his loss. Thanks to a few concerned individuals like SGT Clement, the word had gotten around, and “Coe” Percival’s service to his country was not allowed to pass unnoticed.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so rather than say much more, I’ll simply take the unusual step of giving you this link:

There are a lot of veterans who pass away unnoticed – old soldiers who “fell through the cracks”. In this case, someone noticed, and more importantly, someone spoke up, and over three hundred people DID something.

That’s probably a Hint, folks.

In service and in friendship,

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