State of the NCO Corps October 2013
Time to head on over to the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO Club, where a thorough investigation reveals that, against all odds and expectations, Prigal had absolutely nothing to do with the all too recent storm that dumped about 20 centimeters of snow on us here (but a certain Fleet ensign in Weather Control is advised against visiting the surface any time in the near future - tar and feathers are now a standard item in the big replicator here), and the bartender has had to put up a big sign requesting “Absolutely NO discussion of Politics or your Fantasy Sports Team due to the cost of replacing the fixtures in the aftermath.”
That all too real early winter blast comes as a reminder that we’re being told to expect harsh weather in the next few months (at least here in North America), so 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. And, I’ll take the time right now to give a tip of Top’s eight-point to the 577th MSG who are already working on ideas for a “Coats and Blankets” drive. Bravo Zulu (Well done), Marines!
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. (And remember, it’s not too early to start finalizing your plans for the annual Toys for Tots campaign.)
The motto of the NCO Corps is “Service before Self”, but I want to take a moment to remind my fellow SFMC NCOs that it isn’t “Service instead of Self” - you can’t do anybody any good if you’re sick and tired, either literally or figuratively. That would be a Hint. Take care of yourselves, and you can better take care of your Marines. (Remember that flu shot that COFORCECOM advised getting? Yeah …that might be a start. I kind of wish she had reminded me about it a little sooner.)
The slogan of the NCO Corps is “Excellence in Everything We Do.” That doesn’t just mean striving to be the best when it comes to things like Community Service, taking courses, or racking up awards. That means getting in there, having FUN with your fellow STARFLEET members, and striving to be a walking, talking example of why we joined this organization.
One thing that I can’t stress enough, though, is that there are plenty of outstanding officers in the SFMC that also embrace “Service before Self” and “Excellence in Everything We Do”. The NCO Corps may take those as their motto and slogan, but, really, we’re just speaking for the entire STARFLEET Marine Corps when it comes to those ideals.
One aspect of the STARFLEET Marines that can be confusing to newcomers is the concept that “billet trumps rank held”. In other words, the highest ranking individual in a group may not necessarily be the person “in charge” of that unit. Things get even stranger when a Corporal is placed as a Brigade “Officer in Charge”, as happened recently in the 20th Brigade, when CPL Jamie Spracklen was chose by FORCECOM to be the new OIC. But, remember, in the STARFLEET Marines, such positions are not positions of “command” so much as they are positions of responsibility and leadership, and something tells me the Marines of the 20th remain in very capable hands.
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 sad fact that not all NCOs are heroic or worth emulating. Such was the case of a certain First Sergeant in the US Army during the Korean War. The man (who shall remain nameless in shame) was a rabid anti-Semite, and he found the perfect target for his hatred in one of his troops - a young Hungarian immigrant named Tibor “Ted” Rubin. Tibor Rubin had come to the United States in 1948, with a debt of gratitude burning in his heart for the US troops who had liberated him from the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. His parents and his sisters had perished in the Holocast, but he had managed to survive for two years, and vowed to repay his liberators with his own service.
In 1950, he finally managed to squeak past the English language tests, and PFC Rubin was sent to Korea with the First Cavalry Division. Since he wasn’t yet a US citizen, he didn’t have to be assigned to a combat zone, but he steadfastly refused that option, and instead began a strange road to heroism. His First Sergeant, according to testimony from many individuals, consistently "volunteered" Rubin for the most dangerous patrols and missions. The results were not quite what said sergeant was hoping for.
For instance, ordered to cover his unit’s retreat in one action, he single handedly held a hill against “overwhelming numbers” of North Korean troops for 24 hours, inflicting “ a staggering number of casualties” on the enemy. In another action, he helped capture hundreds of enemy troops in one sweep. His officers recognized that they had a hero in their midst, and he was recommended FOUR times for the Medal of Honor by two different commanding officers before those officers themselves were killed. So, who was told to file the paperwork by those officers before their deaths? Why, the First Sergeant, of course … and those nominations went nowhere.
The end of October 1950 announced the entry of the Chinese into the war, and Corporal Rubin found himself in another desperate fight. Most of his regiment were killed or captured during a massive nighttime assault, but Rubin’s hard fought defense let many of them slip away safely. He was wounded and captured by the Chinese, and spent the next 30 months in a POW camp.
Since he was still officially a Hungarian citizen, the Chinese repeatedly offered to repatriate him safely to Hungary, but Rubin refused. Instead, he risked death or torture by sneaking out at night, and breaking into Chinese and Korean storehouses for the food and medical supplies the starving and sick American prisoners desperately needed. He fed them, tended their wounds, even carried them to the latrine when needed, and used every trick he had learned in surviving the concentration camps to help keep his fellow prisoners’ spirits up, and keep hope alive. It is estimate that his selfless actions saved the lives of at least 40 American POWs in the camp.
Finally, he and the other survivors were returned to the US. He was honorably discharged from the Army, got married, and settled down in California, and there the matter seemed ended. He had survived the worst that Nazi Germany, the Chinese, and, sadly, his fellow soldiers could throw at him. But, the story doesn’t end there.
Spurred on by a 2001 act of Congress, the US military began looking into possible cases of deserving soldiers denied the recognition they had earned due to bigotry and anti-Semitism, and “Ted” Rubin’s story came to light. In September of 2005, the President of the United States, before presenting him with his long overdue Medal of Honor, said “ Many heroes are remembered in monuments of stone. The monuments to Corporal Rubin are a legacy of life. We see his legacy in the many American families whose husbands, fathers, and sons returned home safely because of his efforts.”
And as for that nameless NCO whose hatred kept putting Rubin in harm’s way? Perhaps it’s best to simply let him sink into obscurity. After all, when asked whether he bore any animosity over it taking 50 some years to get the recognition he so richly deserved, Rubin simply said “ I don't hate nobody because life is so short. If you feel hate for your fellow man ... you'll only hurt yourself..”
MGSGT Jerome A. “ Gunny Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the STARFLEET Marines