State of the NCO Corps October-November 2015
Crowd on in to the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO Club, where what you call “snowmen” we call “biodegradable reactive targets” and the sign by the big bowl of leftover Halloween candy at the end of the bar notes it’s “strictly reserved for handing out to visiting children and/or lost second lieutenants.”
I’ll get right to the apology for missing the October report and being very late with the November report. Sometimes, Real Life has a way of slapping you upside the head, and the past couple months have seen health problems for myself and my immediate family that just kept on a-comin’ and took up time normally reserved for the SFMC. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count as “community service” , but I taped a big note for next year up by my desk “Get the dern flu shot as soon as they start giving ‘em …. IDIOT!” Now, if I can just decipher my own handwriting next fall …
As we enter the coldest months of the year for most of us, I’d like to remind you of a personal project I’ve been championing for years, namely seeing what you can do about helping those who will be dealing with a lot of cold and not so much in the way of heat (such as those who are homeless) by applying a little of your time and energy into collecting needed warm clothing. Remember H.U.G.S. (hats, underwear, gloves, socks) may make someone’s life just a little easier this winter. And, it may literally be a matter of life and death to someone.
We’re also well into the time of year when your unit’s participation in the annual Toys for Tots program should be well planned out and ready to kick off. And, please don’t forget the other components of the Commandant’s Campaign, namely the Special Olympics and the SFMC’s own March for the Disabled. I know for a fact that the Dant likes getting LONG lists of STARFLEET Marines who have lent their time and energy to those (and other) worthy causes.
Having said all that, here’s my usual reminder that community service is a big part of what we do, but it doesn’t have to involve any sort of organized charity or cause at all. Just giving of your time and energy to someone who needs a hand is the spirit of community service. And remember: “If you don’t report it, we can’t reward it.”
I’d like to give out a big Tip of Top’s Eight Point this month, to SSGT Chad Steinberg, who, when the Dant managed to break his personal computer in early October, turned to and scrounged up the needed parts in short order. As I communicated privately to the Dant at the time “A General broke his machine … an NCO broke the repair time estimate by 13 days.” Thanks for helping preserve the reputation of NCOs as the folks who get stuff DONE, Staff Sergeant!
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. Occasionally in the SFMC, one encounters the “reverse mustang” – an officer who resigns their commission and continues their career as an enlisted member. A strange as it may sound, if one digs deep enough into the pages of history, once can find real world examples of the “reverse mustang”.
There is perhaps no stranger case that I have found than that of Siegfried Freytag. Beginning in 1940 at the age of 21, Freytag became a highly skilled and highly decorated ace in the German Luftwaffe. By the end of the war, he had over 100 confirmed kills from both the Eastern and Western fronts, and due to his performance in the Mediterranean campaign, he was sometimes known as the “Lion of Malta”. He finished the war as a Major, and was slated to be Group Commander of a jet fighter unit, and had also been nominated for the prestigious Oak Leaves to his Knight’s Cross, but the war ended before either could happen.
Captured by US forces, he initially worked as an interpreter. He discovered that none of his friends and family had survived the war, and worse yet, when Poland seized his native Danzig at the end of World War II, all of his family property was lost to him as well. For several years he worked in the mining industry as a technician, and rumor has it he even drove a taxi for a while.
In 1952, Freytag decided to enlist in the French Foreign Legion, apparently under the assumption that the Legion needed pilots. He ended up as a common infantryman, and yet, he seemed to have found a home. After basic training, Siegfried Freytag (aka Legionnaire Siegfried) served and fought with distinction, seeing action in the First Indochina War and the Algerian War. In 1962, after 10 years of service, he was promoted to Sergeant (which was equivalent to a US Army Staff Sergeant) … and then things got a little more strange. Freytag soon made an odd request – for reasons that were known only to him he wished to be demoted to Caporal Chef – essentially the NCO in charge of a single fire team. I’m sure that request raised an eyebrow or two up the chain of command, but it was granted, and it was at that “lowly” position the former officer and fighter ace served out the rest of his years in the Legion.
Siegfried Freytag finally retired from active duty in 1970, having served the Luftwaffe for nearly five years and the Foreign Legion for eighteen. History is silent about his life between 1970 and his death in 2003, but does note that he was buried with military honors that acknowledged all the decorations he had earned in his years of service, both from Germany and France.
He had been both a hot-shot fighter pilot and a common infantryman, and it seems he may found more fulfillment in the latter. Speaking only for myself … I guess maybe that’s not so strange after all. I suspect some of you reading this may be nodding in agreement at that thought.
In Service and in Friendship,
MGSGT Jerome A. “Gunny Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the STARFLEET Marines firstname.lastname@example.org