State of the NCO Corps October 2012
State of the NCO Corps October 17, 2012
I apologize for my report being greatly delayed this month. I contracted a severe case of that scourge of the STARFLEET Marines: Real Life. Computer problems, health problems, weather problems … this has been a couple of weeks that makes me long for the simple joys of dealing with Prigal’s latest Cunning Plan. But, things are getting as back to as normal as they tend to get around here, so let’s head to the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, where the latest weird aroma is either an experiment by the new cook or just the stench of Top’s fantasy sports teams and the bartender just had to set a personal best on field-stripping a blender (Don’t ask- really- you don’t want to know …it involved yogurt and apricot brandy is all I can say)
“Excellence in Everything We Do” … what does that mean? Well, to me, it means always giving your best effort, or at the very least, making an effort. Your boots may not always be shiny enough to reflect a laser into orbit, but they should be black and scuff-free when you pull them on. You may not always score ‘Distinction’ on an exam, but a mere ‘Pass’ usually means you could have taken a little more time, maybe read things a little more carefully, and asked for clarification on things you weren’t absolutely sure of. You may not be able to do much in the way of community service due to Real Life, but with a little thinking outside the box, you might make a difference in a few small ways.
Get my drift? Nobody expects perfection, but SFMC NCOs should at least always be striving to do their best at any task they undertake. Remember, since we are a minority of STARFLEET membership, the actions of any one of us can reflect on all of us.
Every month I take the time to remind you that community service is something the SFMC encourages (and rewards), but I also want to remind you that the biggest encouragement and reward one can get from community service is the simple knowledge that you have made a difference for someone, however small. With that in mind, please remember that almost everyone can do a simple act of community service by looking out for your friends and neighbors in times of severe weather or natural disaster. Charity, as they say, begins at home.
And, although it may seem odd in the light of the heat and drought so many of us had to deal with over the past several months, there’s still a very real chance for another cold winter. If you can, please try to find a way to lend a hand to those who may need warmer clothing to make it through. Remember HUGS (Hats, Underwear, Gloves, Socks).
In addition to community service, SFMC NCOs are expected to take the lead in recruiting and retention activities at all levels of the Corps. Recruiting can be the easy part. The real work comes in making sure that people stay around, and, frankly, that usually comes down to their experience at the chapter/unit level. Please do your best to be active, positive, and professional, and you might be surprised how easy it is to get folks to stick around.
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.
Recently on that Facebook group, people started a round of posting their ribbon racks. I was personally glad to see so many Marines willing and able to take pride in their accomplishments, and in addition to applauding them for their achievements, I’d like to offer a wide ranging tip of my eight point to every Marine who works to see that efforts of their fellows get recognized.
Now, it’s time for Top’s History Lesson. If you ever get a chance to visit my real world home, you'll see the beat up old desk that I conduct all my business from. It's not very big, and one of the drawers is missing, and although it's rugged and solid, to be honest, it's not all that well made and the design is dead simple (and cedar was certainly an odd choice for its skin). It sort of looks like the kind of thing an ambitious student would put together in wood shop. That's because it is ...
As I recall, it earned the person who built it a B plus or an A minus. Over the years since then, it's been hauled around and banged about more than a bit. In one place, it's got a notch cut in one of the boards where it was converted for a while into a reloading bench.
When I moved into this house, it was as a reloading bench that it sat in the back bedroom. I had other options for a desk out here There was an old metal desk I could have hauled in that's a LOT bigger. There's a glorious old antique roll top that could have been mine for the asking. But when I saw that beat up old pile of boards and drawers, I immediately recognized it, and dragged it to where I wanted to set up my office. It's one of my treasures here, and literally priceless to me. I could find a substitute, but there's no way I could replace it.
The kid who built it was a few years older, but we were very close. In some ways, he was the older brother I never had, and I was the kid brother he always wanted. Like so many young men of the time, he got drafted and sent off to Vietnam. Like so many of those young men, he came back with problems that he struggled for the rest of his life to overcome. He once said that he sometimes thought the guys who came back in a box were the lucky ones, because it was over for them.
In later years, he went back to school, got a degree in counseling, and went to work for the VA, working hard to help those in the same boat he found himself in. He said he owed it to them.
The health problems caused by Agent Orange and the drug and alcohol issues he struggled with for decades eventually caught up with him. He was trying to fix up this old place to try and live out his remaining days in the peace that he found here but he died in late 2005 with the job unfinished. But, he left behind the old desk he'd made in shop, and it was waiting for me when I moved in.
He was the first real world NCO I ever knew, and I think he'd be happy to know that his old desk soldiers on, even for a "pretend" NCO. For one thing, he was a big Star Trek fan, and the SFMC would have been right up his alley. I hope he'd be proud of some of the things that leave this desk and travel the internet to reach so many. For my part, every time I sit down at this old desk, I remember the man who built it back in 1965 when his life was a whole lot simpler: my uncle, SGT Theodore Wayne Stoddard, United States Army.
As Veteran’s Day approaches, please take time to remember that not all heroes win a medal and not all casualties of war are from the battlefield.
MGSGT Jerome A. “Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the Starfleet Marines
sgm_sfmc at sfi-sfmc.org