State of the NCO Corps December 2013
Please join me in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, where so far this month, the stockings have been on our feet instead of being hung by the chimney with care because we’ll take any extra warmth we can get, and the kitchen staff had to put up a big sign over their soup kettles that said “No Swimming or bathing allowed” in spite of all the compliments they got about the improved flavor of their corn chowder.
For many if not most of us, we’ve been dealing with some fairly nasty winter weather lately, and that brings up two points as far as community service is concerned. The first is something I’ve been endorsing for a few years now, namely seeing what you can do in your own community about helping out those who may need warmer clothing right about now. It’s often not just a matter of being more comfortable, it could literally help someone survive. Remember HUGS: Hats, Underwear, Gloves, Socks. These are often in short supply, and sorely needed.
The second is a little less obvious, and concerns the “community” that we are all a part of: STARFLEET in general and the STARFLEET Marines in particular. Bitterly cold weather can affect all of us, and there’s often not a lot we can do about it. One thing we CAN do is check up on each other, or simply let folks know we’re doing ok. It may not earn you another star on your Community Service ribbon, but it may just set some of your fellow STARFLEET Marines’ minds at ease. If we can’t help each other, I’m not sure how much real help we are to others.
Remember, 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 you’ve probably heard by now, I have agreed to stay on as Sergeant Major of the Starfleet Marines during the next administration. With MGN Bruce O’Brien stepping down in January, I have suddenly become the “old timer” of the General Staff. When I first became SGM, he and I were the “new guys” - both of us from “obscure” brigades stuck out in the “Badlands” of the SFMC. His quiet professionalism and good humor has been an inspiration to many, not the least of whom is yours truly. Here’s wishing him a fun and well deserved break from the action and a BIG tip of Top’s eight point for all his hard work over the years. As I have often reminded you, “Service before Self” and “Excellence in Everything We Do” doesn’t just apply to the SFMC NCO Corps.
Next month, I’ll reveal a few of the goals for my office in 2014, and probably end up asking some of you for help in meeting them. No hints at this time.
I’m going to do a classic “pre-emptive strike” right now and answer a question many of you may be asking yourselves after seeing the announcement about elements requested for the design of the new SFMC logo and seal - specifically “A Mer-goat? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?” Here’s a little bonus History Lesson for you: notable in the legions of ancient Rome were a couple that used Capricorn ( depicted as a “mer-goat”- a goat’s front half and a fish’s tail) as their emblem. This was because these legions were originally units that were posted to the Roman navy. In short … they were Marines, and both of them used Capricorn to honor their naval roots. So, really, the oldest known identifier on Earth for “naval infantry” (marines) is a “mer-goat”- Capricorn. Anchors, etc came centuries later. It might be something for STARFLEET Marines to think about when designing their own logos, even at the unit level.
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. There is an amazing story I like to remember at this time of every year- a story all the more amazing because it's a matter of historical fact.
Back in 1914, the heads of state on both sides of World War One, and even the power of the Vatican had proven unable to negotiate some sort of cease fire for Christmas. But, on Christmas Eve 1914, for a time , the guns fell silent in many areas along the Western Front in a spontaneous mass act of human decency that has become known as the Christmas Truce. The generals and leaders on both sides had no part in it- it was driven by the actions of common soldiers in the front lines- who gave their enemies leave to search for and bury their dead without fear, and even shared precious small luxuries from home.
They discovered that they knew many of the same Christmas songs - just with different words, and they sang them together. They shared pictures of their families, and despite the language barrier, they managed to get along. In one spot along the lines, they even improvised a soccer field and played a spirited game.
In the middle of a terrible war, they found time for "Peace on Earth - Good Will to Men" ... and perhaps saw the soldiers on the other side as people not much different from themselves.
Needless to say, the high commands of both sides were a bit concerned about all this “fraternizing with the enemy”, and stern orders were passed down the Chain of Command. Soon, everybody was back in their own trenches, and the “War to End All Wars” went on. To give credit where credit is due, the politicians and generals tried to arrange a similar truce in 1915, but nothing came of it, and the unlikely series of events that led to the Christmas Truce never happened again.
If the Christmas Truce of 1914 teaches us anything, it's perhaps that the person best able to treat those around us well is staring back at us from the mirror.
In service and in friendship,
MGSGT Jerome A. “ Gunny Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the STARFLEET Marines