State of the NCO Corps August 2014

State of the NCO Corps August 2014

Greetings Marines!

Have a seat here in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, which finally re-opened after that “incident”  during the IM “Pity Party” ( note to that Armor SGT – next time, ASK before deciding we needed a “Drive through” window) and I am relieved to report a certain MP butterbar who was responding to the “incident” eventually got his pants back.

Let’s start off with huge Tip of Top’s Slightly Soggy Boonie Hat (it’s been unseasonably rainy here the past week, so the Eight Point is hanging in my office) to SGM Brian Chappell, who I had the privilege of naming as this year’s recipient of the Star of Honor. SGM Chappell’s leadership, dedication, and incredible amount of community service, all while living in a small town, brought him to the top of a crowded and outstanding field of nominees for the award this year.

And, the future of the NCO Corps seems in good hands, to judge by the Cadet Star of Honor (grade 2) that I was pleased to award to CDT SGT Edward Tunis IV, based on a long and detailed nomination submitted for him.

I was also pleased to note that the STARFLEET Enlisted Member of the Year went to an SFMC NCO who has long been an inspiration to me, personally – my immediate predecessor in this office, SGM Marie “M” Smith. Her example of “Service Before Self” and her dedication to the NCO Corps have helped me be better at my own job, both at the Corps level and in my own unit.

Turning back to the Honor awards, I have to note that in many cases, the members of the NCO Corps were NOT just nominees for the Star of Honor. Names familiar to me cropped up in several awards categories, recognizing the outstanding service rendered to the SFMC by enlisted members. Who knows, perhaps someday, we’ll see a sweep of all Honor awards (save the Sword, which you’ll note is for “Officer of the Year”) by enlisted Marines? It very nearly happened in the Cadet Honor awards for this year, and these fine young people are the future of the SFMC.

One of the assigned responsibilities of my office is “promoting and assisting in the organization of community service activities at all levels within the SFMC,”  so it’s probably a good time to remind you that “community service” need not be part of some organized charity or done on behalf of some national or international organization. Any effort made to help others that simply involves you giving up your own free time and energy to make a difference probably counts. And, please, make sure your unit OIC is aware of your efforts and includes the information in the bi-monthly report that goes up the SFMC Chain of Command. Remember “If you don’t report it, we can’t reward it.”

Making sure that deserving Marines are rewarded goes a long way towards the critical goal of recruiting and retention. That process starts with each and every member of the SFMC. As I’ve remarked in the past, don’t wait for the Other Guy to write that award recommendation or even find something fun for your unit to do – the Other Guy is famous for dropping the ball.  Maybe your recommendation or your idea won’t gain much traction, but you’ll never know until you try.

And that neatly segues into my usual reminder 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. Earlier this year, when the SFMC General Staff was going over submissions for the new SFMC motto, I was forced to cast my mind back about forty years to my high school Latin classes on a few points of grammar and vocabulary. That brought back memories of reading Caesar’s “De Bello Gallico” (in Latin, of course) and a story about not one, but TWO centurions … a rank often considered to be the basis of the modern NCO.

Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullio were both centurions in the Eleventh Legion, and, according to Caesar, there was little love lost between the two. As the two advanced through the ranks, they apparently used to argue “with the utmost animosity” about who should be promoted, each deeming himself the better man for the job. As they both approached promotion to the coveted post of a “first rank” centurion, their rivalry reached its peak.

The Eleventh was engaged in a hot fight against the Nervii (one of the Gallic tribes), and as the two centurions looked out at the enemy from behind the field fortifications the Legions had erected as a matter of course, Pullio reportedly said to Vorenus “Why do you hesitate, Vorenus? Or what better opportunity of displaying your valor do you seek? This very day shall decide our disputes.” And with that, Titus Pullio went over the palisade, and charged the biggest concentration of the enemy he could see. Caesar is silent on what Vorenus said – I imagine I couldn’t quote it here even if it HAD been recorded, but “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” probably comes close – but, not wanting to be shown up by his rival, Lucius Vorenus followed him into the fight.

Pullio waited until the range was very short, and then threw his javelin, killing one of the enemy. That brought a storm of enemy spears in response, and, because of the short range, one pierced his shield, and pinned his weapons belt to his body, and impeded his right arm so he couldn’t draw his sword from the scabbard that was now not where it was supposed to be. The Nervii swarmed over him, battering him to the ground, and stabbing at him as he lay under his shield.

But, Vorenus was right behind him, and HIS sword was out. The Gauls, assuming Pullio was dead or badly wounded, turned on the other centurion. Vorenus killed one, and his disciplined, trained sword and shield work had the others falling back. (As a side note, I can’t be sure, but it’s possible one of the Gauls may have said something like “These Romans are CRAZY!” right about then – points if you get the reference.) Then, Vorenus slipped and fell due to a hole in the ground, and the Nervii surrounded him and got ready to increase their bag of centurions for the day.

But, Pollo wasn’t dead, or even badly wounded, and Vorenus’s actions gave him a chance to get to his feet and draw his own sword, and it was his turn to come to his rival’s rescue. The two of them, after reportedly killing a fair number of the enemy as they made a careful fighting retreat back to the fortifications, were thunderously applauded by the rest of the troops.

Caesar closes the chapter by stating: “Fortune so dealt with both in this rivalry and conflict, that the one competitor was a succor and a safeguard to the other, nor could it be determined which of the two appeared worthy of being preferred to the other.”

History is silent on what happened to these two afterwards. It’s possible they may have even become friends. It’s almost certain that there was a new found respect for each other. But, reading this story again after all these years, one thing I am pretty sure probably happened is that, after the battle was over, the Primus Pilus (First Spear) – the top ranked centurion in the Legion -probably had a little chat with them, explaining the difference between being gutsy and being just flat out stupid.

In service and in friendship,

MGSGT Jerome A. “ Gunny Hawk” Stoddard

Sergeant Major of the STARFLEET  Marines

State of FORCECOM August 2014

State of FORCECOM August 2014

Good Day, Marines,

This will be a brief note from the Office of Forces Command.

Now with another International Marine Muster come and gone and with the major awards season over, now is a good time to check out your personnel records on the database. No one’s going to know something is missing but you so it’s a good to get in the habit of reviewing your personal records every couple of months or so.


And besides, you may discover an award or two you didn’t know you received. That’s always a nice surprise.


It’s a fact of life in electronic record keeping that sometimes things go missing. An email may get eaten by a spam folder. Records can be lost on a hard drive. It is the responsibility of the individual to keep a copy of all his personal records, awards received, courses completed, etc. If you find an error, it’s certainly acceptable to point it out and request the data be added, updated or changed. Just know that you’ll need to provide documentation so that the appropriate correction to the database. Documentation can be a scanned copy of the certificate, an email from the issuing authority, a copy of a Unit or Brigade report noting the award, etc.


I can’t emphasis this point enough: if it can’t be documented, it can’t be changed, corrected or added. If this all sounds familiar, it’s something I try to stress every few months or so. It’s never a good idea to wait until the last moment to discover something’s missing, especially if you’re getting ready for a formal dress event like your Unit Holiday formal dinner or an upcoming Brigade Muster.


Just think of it as ‘preventative maintenance’.


And now, to close with a few numbers.


Breakdown of Assigned Marines based off of the August 2014 Brigade reports:


138 active Units spread over 14 Brigades

1BDE: 189 Marines assigned to 23 units [Active 109 / Reserve 80]

2BDE: 128 Marines assigned to 16 units [Active 96 / Reserve 32]

3BDE: 141 Marines assigned to 22 units [Active 85 / Reserve 56]

4BDE: 99 Marines assigned to 6 units [Active 78 / Reserve 21]

5BDE: 75 Marines assigned to 10 units [Active 40 / Reserve 20]

6BDE: 34 Marines assigned to 5 units [Active 24 / Reserve 10]

7BDE: 114 Marines assigned to 19 units [Active 65 / Reserve 49]

8BDE: no units reporting

9BDE: no units reporting

10BDE: 13 Marines assigned to 2 units [Active 8 / Reserve 5]

11BDE: 83 Marines assigned to 5 units [Active 64 / Reserve 19]

12BDE: 116 Marines assigned to 11 units [Active 71 / Reserve 45]

13BDE: 20 Marines assigned to 4 units [Active 13 / Reserve 7]

14BDE: no units reporting

15BDE: 58 Marines assigned to 7 units [Active 23 / Reserve 35]

16BDE: no units reporting

17BDE: 23 Marines assigned to 1 unit [Active 5 / Reserve 18]

18BDE: no units reporting

19BDE: no units reporting

20BDE: 52 Marines assigned to 7 units [Active 29 / Reserve 23]

Unassigned: 522 Marines

If, on review of your own unit or Brigade roster, if you think the numbers are adding up wrong, please contact FORCECOM as soon as possible so we can start figuring out why the numbers don’t match.

Stand Easy, Marines.

With Regards,

BGN Jari “Gato” James


State of INFOCOM August 2014

State of INFOCOM August 2014

Greetings Marines,

First off, I wanted to say I had a great time at IC this year.  It was great meeting new folks and seeing friends I’ve haven’t seen in a while.  The flight to and from Chicago was uneventful.  The possible problems with the hotel turned out to be nonexistent.  My room was pleasant and my interactions with the hotel staff were good.  It wasn’t the Beverly Hilton but it’s about what you would except from an IC hotel.  I really looking forward to IC 2015 at Niagara Falls, I have always wanted to visit and with having the IC there, well that will be two birds and one stone, so to speak.

Congratulations to Shirley Kolb of the 12th Brigade on receiving the SFMC Communication Service Award at the International Muster.

I ran across an interesting article the other day and wanted to share some of it with you.  A quick google search will find you more information on this.  “Marines deactivate decorated Walking Dead unit.”  Being a fan of the TV show I had to see what this was about.  I consider myself fairly versed on military history but after reading the article it just shows me how much of our military history I don’t know.

This Marine Corps battalion has been decorated for extensive combat in World War II and Vietnam and earned the nickname “Walking Dead”.  Now designated 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment has also saw action in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It was deactivated during a ceremony last week at Camp Lejeune North Carolina.

Marine Corps historians believe the battalion appears to have gotten the nickname because of its high casualty rates during the Vietnam War. But the unit also has a reputation for heroism that included Medal of Honor recipients at Guam and Iwo Jima during World War II and two in Vietnam.

Formed during World War I, the battalion had previously been deactivated in 1994 and reactivated in 2007. Its insignia depicts a cloaked grim reaper carrying a scythe.

Retired Marine Col. Wesley Fox, who received the Medal of Honor while leading a company within the battalion in Vietnam, said he wasn’t happy about the deactivations.  He was quoted as saying “Not a better battalion in the world. I don’t know why they’re the ones who keep getting put on the bench, but that’s the way it goes I guess,”

The article goes on to mention that on the eve of the deactivation, Col. Fox recalled first hearing the nickname in 1968 from a personnel officer.  “He asked me if I wanted the 1/9, and I said that sounded good to me. He did the paper work,” Col. Fox is now 82. “Then he asked: ‘Have you ever heard of the Walking Dead?’ My response to him was: ‘Maybe a better name is the Walking Death.”

My thanks to Col. Fox and all the Marines in this and other units who picked up a rifle, stood a post and took my place me when they were called upon. May that all live long and prosper in peace.

In closing here are the pingdom stats for July 2014.

Uptime: 99.73%

Outages: 3

Downtime: 60 minutes

Response time: 360 ms


Mark “Slayer” Anderson

Major General, SFMC


Team Delta