State of the NCO Corps February 2013
State of the NCO Corps February 10, 2013
Once again, it’s time to head for the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of my local NCO club, where I can let my hair down a little instead of tearing it out in clumps (And it‘s not always due to Prigal!), and right about now the rest of the members are a little envious that I have my own sled dog on staff (SGT Bear has this perverse love of snow).
As I write this, the March for the Disabled kicks off in just a few weeks, and I’m happy to say that I’ve already received some solid information from a couple of BDEs about their members planning to participate. Remember, a nutshell, all STARFLEET Marines are being asked to make some sort of effort to assist or raise awareness of those with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities during the month of March, 2013, and participation in this campaign will count towards the requirements for earning the Commandant’s Campaign Award for 2013.
Like all SFMC community service, this need not be part of any organized charity or program. What matters most is putting in your time and effort for your chosen cause. The March campaign was left deliberately vague and broad in scope in part to allow even those Marines who live in small communities a chance to participate. If you look around, no matter how small the community you live in is, odds are you can find a way to make a difference. As Exhibit A, I’ll note that where I reside is charitably described as “maybe not exactly the Back Side of Nowhere- but you can see it from here.” and last year, I managed to put in three hours on the March campaign. I’m hoping to better that this year, and I’ll simply say that I think if someone like me, whose “community” mostly consists of folks with four legs and fur, can find a way to help, you probably can as well.
As a special note, a fair number of those who may be helped in some small way by the “ripple effect” of the March for the Disabled are fellow members of the SFMC who are dealing with disabilities in their own families or even in their own lives. “Marines take care of their own”
I’d like to thank those who have sent in images for the ‘recruiting video’ that SGM Polanis and I are working on. Part of my official job description involves building and maintaining the NCO Chain of Support through recruiting and retention of enlisted Marines, and this may help - if nothing else, it should at least be fun. We still need more images, and I may be contacting some of you directly to see if there’s one you’d like attached to your name. As a reminder, what we’d like is a good shot of STARFLEET enlisted members, preferably having fun, whether in uniform or not. As I said last month, I can understand that some of you may not have a picture you like, or may have personal reasons for not wanting your face out there (Goodness knows I’m probably not the first choice for a recruiting poster myself), but I encourage you to think outside the box and send either SGM Polanis
(email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) something to represent you - perhaps your ribbon rack, or a picture representing your call sign? Think outside the box. We really can’t do this without you … well, maybe we can, but it’ll be more fun WITH you.
One thing I’ve been involved with this past month is reviewing reports, official and unofficial, from my own unit, and pulling notes together for nominations for my BDE’s annual Valor awards. As I am fond of saying- relying on the Other Guy to get things done is a recipe for disappointment. That qualifies as a Hint, Marines.
Please remember that 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. Recently, in the US Armed Forces, women were given the right to serve in combat units. Although several women have already distinguished themselves under fire in recent years, even though not officially in “combat roles”, they have a bit of catching up to do to the most decorated female soldier in history.
In 1913, after the Battle of Bregalnica fought between the armies of the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Serbia during the Second Balkan War, a wounded Serbian private was discovered by physicians to be a woman - 25 year old Milunka Savic, who according to some sources had decided to cut her hair and take her brother‘s place when he was called up for service in the First Balkan War in 1912. She had managed to keep her secret all this time, and had been serving with the crack “Iron Regiment” - as a shock trooper - she had been wounded in her TENTH charge against the Bulgarian lines.
After she had recovered, her commanding officer offered her a transfer to the nursing corps, which she declined, saying she’d signed up to fight the enemies of Serbia, and requested that she be allowed to keep serving with the Iron Regiment. When her CO told her he’d think it over, she stood there at attention, and said only “I’ll wait”.
Savic was allowed to return to her unit, eventually commanding the Iron Regiment's Assault Bomber Squad during World War One, where her skill with grenades at the Battle of the Kolubara River earned her the nickname of “ The Bomber of Kolubara”. It was at Kolubara that she earned Serbia’s highest military decoration, the Karadorde Star with Swords . She received her second Karadorde Star after the Battle of Crna Reka in 1916 when she captured 23 Bulgarian soldiers single-handedly.
She served throughout the first world war, being evacuated with the rest of the Serbian Army to France, where she developed a life long hatred of the Germans. It was at this time that a French general, hearing of her legendary skill with hand grenades, placed a bottle of rare cognac on a post 40 meters away, and told Savic that if she could hit it, he’d give the rest of the case to her unit. She broke it on her first try, and that night, her unit enjoyed the other 19 bottles.
She was wounded in battle at least nine times, and in addition to her two Karaorde Stars, was also awarded the French Légion d’Honneur twice, Russian Cross of St. George, British medal of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael, Serbian Miloš Obilic medal, and was the sole female recipient of the French Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 with Palm for service in World War I.
After the war, she was offered a chance to move to France and collect a comfortable pension, but she turned it down to return to Serbia, where she became forgotten for a time. She got married, had a daughter, got divorced, and supported herself by working as a cleaning lady. During World War Two, she spent ten months in a concentration camp after she refused to attend a banquet which was to be attended by German generals and officers.
After that war, life wasn’t easier for her. She was given a state pension in 1945, and lived in an old house in Belgrade. By the late 1950s her daughter was hospitalized, and she shared her old house with three adopted children. But, eventually, the word got out that that old house was home to a genuine hero, and in 1972, public pressure and a newspaper article highlighting her difficult housing and financial situation led to her being given a small apartment by the Belgrade City Assembly. She passed away in October of 1973, and a Belgrade street has been named after her.
But, her greater legacy is that of Milunka Savic, the Bomber of Kolubara, one of the best, bravest, and “baddest” soldiers of any gender or any generation you’ll ever hear about.
MGSGT Jerome A. “ Gunny Hawk” Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the Starfleet Marines