State of the NCO Corps May 2012
State of the NCO Corps May 6, 2012
Once again, it is time for me to take a break from my various duties and spend some time with you from (you guessed it) the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, where we are thinking about getting a pet rabbit to help eat all the new healthy veggie snacks the kitchen seems to think we need and coin checks are rare because almost everyone figures we never go anywhere without a challenge coin.(and yes, that includes the …err… facilities)
One of the single most important things any STARFLEET Marine can do is simply have fun with their fellow members. File that under Recruiting and Retention or Other Duties as Required if you like. It need not be Star Trek or science fiction related. For that matter, it need not be military related (such as war games, paintball, etc). For Corry chapters/units, this can be a bit more difficult, as you probably will not see each other face to face very often (if at all) but there are still ways for Marines to get together over the Internet and have fun together. As I often tell you: think outside the box.
Remember to share your ideas with your fellow Marines as well. What works for your unit/chapter may not work for another one, but you never know …
With that in mind, please drop me a line if you have an interesting idea some of your fellow Marines might like to try, and I will do my best to help get the word out. And, if you are ever going to be in my neck of the woods, let me know. My detachment is always ready to share what we do for fun. Bring a healthy appetite and some good earplugs.
At this point, I want to remind you all again that “community service” need not be about participating in some major international or national campaign. Whenever you give freely of your own time and effort to help others in need you are performing community service. Odds are no matter how small the town you live in (if you even live in a town), you can find a way every once in a while to lend a hand. Please, take the time.
And, remember to pass the word on up your chain of command as to what you are doing. In my experience, most unit and BDE OICs like to recognize the Marines under them that make efforts in community service, but until Corps R&D gets all the bugs in the Omniscience Module worked out, the only way they may know is if you tell them.
I have sent my report off to the Dant on my year long tracking of a large sample of the SFMC and the number of enlisted members therein. The next phase of the project involves trying to see if there is any sort of correlation between the number of senior NCOs in a BDE and the overall percentage of enlisted members. I suspect that the very high percentage of enlisted members in some of the BDEs in the sample may be due to some fairly high profile enlisted Marines setting a good example, but there is really no way to prove this from simple data. Another phase of the project will be trying to do a complete census of enlisted members of the SFMC across a single data snapshot. This is on tap for this fall due to the amount of labor involved.
I would like to give a quick tip of Top’s eight point to a couple of fellow Master Gunnery Sergeants who have recently taken on some big jobs: MGSGT James Maarsingh, who is now running the IN school for TRACOM, and MGSGT Carl Christianson, who recently stepped up as 1st BDE SGM.
Which brings me to a quick reminder to E-7s looking a promotion in the face: be sure and let your chapter CO or other responsible party know which track you prefer to go down: that of 1SGT to SGM or MSGT to MGSGT. The grades are the same, but there is a slight difference in the rank insignia, and fictionally, a big difference in assigned duties. You may, of course, with the cooperation of your chapter CO, switch ranks or tracks if you wish.
As always, remember that the SFMC General Staff is here to serve you. The email addresses are ALL on the SFMC web page, and their doors are always open. Your questions and input are always welcome and needed. And, remember that some of us tend to read and follow the SFMC group on Facebook, so feel free to comment and share with your fellow Marines there.
As yet another reminder, there is a special group on Facebook for all STARFLEET senior NCOs (E-7 and above, including WOs). Contact SGM Mark Polanis (SGM TRACOM) or myself if you would like an invite. If there is sufficient interest expressed, I am open to getting a more general group set up there for all STARFLEET enlisted members and guests.
Now, it’s time for Top’s History Lesson. They say a hero is often just an ordinary person who finds themselves in extraordinary circumstances and rises to the occasion. Such was the case of a young Welshman born John Fielding in May of 1857. In 1877, he enlisted in the Monmouth Militia under the name John Williams. History is not sure why he joined up under an assumed name, but it is thought that he had run away from home to be a soldier, and did not wish anyone to come looking for him. He was about average height, and surviving images of him indicate nothing special about him, but in January of 1879, the 21 year old Private in the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot (later known as the South Wales Borderers) rose above the ordinary and entered the company of heroes.
The place was a little spot in Natal, South Africa known as Rorke’s Drift. Students of history will know that a small British force conducted a famous stand against overwhelming odds there (about 150 against thousands of Zulu warriors). Part of the defensive perimeter they improvised was anchored by the small hospital (still containing some 30 patients) where Williams was one of three privates assigned to defend a distant room. The three fought for over an hour until, out of ammunition, the enemy broke in, killing one soldier and two patients. But, while the enemy was cutting them down, Williams managed to break through an inner wall, and drag the two surviving patients to safety with him.
There he was joined by Private Alfred Henry Hook (who was also out of ammunition). The two enlisted men took turns holding off the enemy with their bayonets and breaking through more inner walls to drag more patients back to safer ground. After three walls, they came to a small window and managed to get eight of the hospital patients through it, and to the relative safety of the inner defensive perimeter. For their actions that day, Williams and Hook were both honored with the Victoria Cross (In all, 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders of Rorke’s Drift. There would have been more, but at the time there was no provision for issuing the award posthumously.)
Williams remained in the Royal Army, rising to the rank of Sergeant in the 3rd Volunteers, South Wales Borders. In 1914, he volunteered for service again with the regiment and served as a recruiting agent for them through World War One. By this time, he was married, and in a small twist of fate, one of his sons was killed during the Mons Retreat while serving with the South Wales Borders.
At the time of his death from heart failure in 1932, he was the last surviving holder of the Victoria Crosses awarded at Rorke’s Drift, It is perhaps fitting that after his death, a nursing home directly across from his burial place in Cwmbran, Wales was named in his honor. What better monument could there be for an ordinary man who displayed extraordinary courage and devotion to defend the patients in the hospital of Rorke’s Drift than a place where people in need are cared for?
MGSGT Jerome A. “Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the Starfleet Marines