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State of the NCO Corps, September 2010
Tuesday, 14 September 2010 14:00
Greetings Marines!

Once again, I’m coming to you from the booth in the back, in the corner, in the dark of the local NCO club, where the only thing hotter than the salsa is the discussions centering around various favorite sports teams, and outside, it looks like someone flipped the switch for the seasons to change in these parts. (I have GOT to find out where that switch is located).

As you all know by now, one of my big jobs is promoting community service activities throughout the Corps, and I would like to lead off by reminding you of one of the most important community service activities any of us can engage in. It won’t rack you up a lot of hours, or get you a citation, but … please remember to exercise your right to vote. Many of us only remember to do so when the election is a “big” one, but remember, a lot of people went through a lot of hardship to make sure we had the chance to express our opinions through our ballot boxes. Whether it’s a small town office, or a position with national influence, we owe it to our communities to take the time to cast our vote.

Meanwhile, with the change in the seasons comes a reminder that time is passing by. Before we know it, we’ll be thinking that maybe we should do something for the holidays, like helping out the Toys for Tots campaign, or other seasonal service activities. Might I respectfully suggest that the time to start thinking about that is , well, now-ish?

Another thing that you all probably know well by now is that I like to take a little time each month, and point the finger of praise at one of our enlisted members who is doing something special. To that end, let’s have a big “Bravo Zulu” for CWO3 Jennifer Hoover. As if being OIC of the 12th BDE wasn’t enough, Jenn was recently confirmed as the ADC (Awards, Devices, and Certifications) Clerk at TRACOM. She has a big job in front of her, as the ADC Office will be assuming responsibilities for all SFMCA certifications, awards, and devices, as well as administering the MURP and MOSC programs.

Now it’s time for Top’s History Lesson. Sometimes, finding stories about NCOs and enlisted soldiers I think you should know about takes a lot of thought and digging. Sometimes, they literally fall into my lap as I read the newspaper, like the following story about a modern day NCO who, I think, will be remembered as one of the greats..

On October 25, 2007, a squad from the US Army’s 503rd Infantry Regiment was on patrol in Afghanistan when they came under heavy attack from three sides. The point man was the first one hit, and he went down.  Other soldiers in the squad were also hit. One of those was Specialist Salvatore (Sal) Giunta, who was knocked down, but spared wounding by his body armor. Not only was that a good thing for Giunta, it turned out to be a good thing for the rest of his squad, as he went to the aid of a pinned down and wounded comrade, exposing himself to heavy enemy fire to drag the inured soldier back to cover.  He then continued advancing along the trail, trying to link up with the other half of his squad, which had been split into two parts by the ambush.

There he saw two of the enemy dragging away the wounded point man. Giunta opened fire, killing one and driving away the other, and recovered his fellow soldier, administering first aid and comforting the gravely wounded sergeant until relief arrived. Unfortunately for Giunta, who was a very close friend of the wounded man, the surgeons were unable to save him

On September 10, 2010, the White House announced that Giunta, now a Staff Sergeant, would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that night. He will be the first living recipient of that award since the Vietnam War. (There have been other Medal of Honor winners since Vietnam but none survived the actions which earned that high honor.)

In part, the White House account of the actions reads:”His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon's ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.”

In a newspaper interview, his mother talked about how reluctant Giunta was to be considered a hero. She said: "He says ‘I'm nobody. The guy on the right would have done it, and the guy on the left would have done it. It was just my job, and I did it,'"

Let us hope that, in years to come, when we look back on his heroism, that we also remember that, in his mind, Sal Giunta was just a soldier doing his job. And there is no doubt in my mind that he would swap the honors he receives for just another few minutes with the friend he tried so hard to save that night. Any hero would do the same.

As usual, I’ll close with reminding you about the official NCO mailing list. It’s open to all SFI members, Fleet or Marine, with an interest in enlisted affairs.

And, please feel free to contact the SFMC General Staff with any questions or concerns you have. 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.

Semper Fi!

MGSGT Jerome A. "Hawk" Stoddard
Sergeant Major of the Starfleet Marines