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State of the NCO Corps, August 2011
State of the NCO Corps August 13, 2011
Greetings Marines!
Here at my local NCO club, the annual Pity Party for those unable to attend the International Muster is in full swing, and I have to say that while the fireworks display may have seemed like a good idea at the time, a certain soon to be demoted again corporal should be reminded to check for flammable vegetation in the immediate vicinity. But after the excitement died down, I am back in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark, where seldom is heard a discouraging word that does not apply to Prigal, and you will be happy to know that some of us older non-coms still can react pretty darn quickly in an emergency.
As Sergeant Major of the Corps, one of my duties is recognizing the efforts of some of our outstanding enlisted Marines. To that end … GSGT James “Fireball” Maarsingh, Front and Center!
Having weighed a strong field of candidates carefully, and with the assistance and input of the entire SFMC General Staff, it is my pleasure to announce that you have been selected as the winner of this year’s Star of Honor. Your significant efforts in community service, coupled with your outstanding leadership set a standard for every enlisted member of the Corps. Well done, Marine!
Of particular note is that the bulk of Gunny Maarsingh’s long list of accomplishments in 2010 came while he was busy at his day job: serving as a US Army Sergeant in a combat role in Iraq. My eight point is not only tipped, it is completely off to this outstanding NCO.
While I am on the subject of awards … LCPL Noah Cook, Front and Center! It is my pleasure to announce that your efforts in community service and your demonstrated leadership, especially for one of your age group, set a standard for Cadet NCOs throughout the Corps, and thus it is my privilege to award you the Cadet Star of Honor. Well done, Marine! Keep up the outstanding work.
Something that stood out in the nomination for LCPL Cook was that he has apparently been doing his homework in the MFM, as he is actively engaged in recruiting more Marines of his age group into the Corps in addition to making strong efforts in community service. He may be young, but he seems to understand the duties of an SFMC NCO.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the winner of the Cadet Cross of Honor, CDT SGT Anya Walker. This makes two years in a row this outstanding young NCO has been awarded this ribbon. All these fine cadets are the future of the SFMC, and from where I sit, the future looks very bright.
I must note in passing that the process of selecting the annual Honor award winners is both uplifting and frustrating at the same time. Uplifting, because it gives me a look at the best of the best that the SFMC has to offer, both officers and enlisted. Frustrating, because choosing the best of the best of the best is a task involving a lot of careful thought and soul searching, and the eventual winner often comes down to a slight edge in one of the listed criteria for the award. There can be no ties, and the nomination must speak for itself. My congratulations to those who made the job even harder by writing some thorough and outstanding nominations this year. You served your fellow Marines very well.
Returning to the duties of an SFMC NCO, I would like to share some information I got this past month about a Marine who seemingly never lets down in the area of community service. CDT CPL Alexandra Shepherd, who I have brought to your attention in the past, just keeps on going in her efforts to help others. In addition to some of her ongoing works, she started a project called Right 2 Read, which has so far distributed over 1500 brand new books to over 500 families who can not get books otherwise. She was also reportedly raring to get started on collecting for Toys for Tots this year … in July. Sounds like a plan to me, Marine.
As a reminder on the OTHER duty that SFMC NCOs are charged with, FORCECOM is looking for someone to handle a new Recruiting and Retention program they plan to roll out. Please contact FORCECOM if you are interested for further details.
I have completed my promised second round of data collection and analysis on the numbers of enlisted members, and will be making a complete report soon. For those who can not wait, it looks like the estimates I made based on my first round of data are holding up, but there were a few interesting things that popped up this time.
Now, it’s time for Top’s History Lesson. Belleau Wood is a name that all Marines should be familiar with, and it was the scene of many acts of heroism by enlisted Marines. But, perhaps one of the greatest of those acts is one that went almost forgotten for years, and that even today few have even heard of.
During an intense barrage of both high explosive and gas shells, GSGT Fred William Stockham noticed that a wounded Marine’s gas mask had been shot away. Well aware of the personal consequences of his actions, he removed his own gas mask and fitted it to his wounded comrade. Unprotected against the effects of the gas in the trenches, he then directed and assisted in the evacuation of the wounded until he finally collapsed. It took him two days to die from the exposure to mustard gas he received as a result of his selfless actions. His company CO said of his actions "No man ever displayed greater heroism or courage and showed more utter contempt of personal danger."
His body was returned to the US in 1920, and buried in an unmarked grave, near his only known relative, his foster mother. (Stockham was an orphan) In St Louis, an American Legion post was named in his honor. And there the matter would have ended except for the actions of his former company CO.
In the late 1930s, former 2nd Lt. Clifton B. Cates, who would become Commandant of the USMC in 1948, discovered that the Medal Honor recommendation he had written for Stockham had gone astray, and along with Barret Mattingly, the Marine who received Stockham’s gas mask, he set about to having the actions of the forgotten hero recognized at last. In December of 1939, over 21 years after that night in Belleau Wood, GSGT Fred Stockham was finally awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous and selfless actions.
There are no known photographs of the man whose 37 years of life and long service as a Marine were cut short by one act of courage. (The only image I could find is one of a painting in the American Legion post that bears his name.) Since he was an orphan, there was no next of kin to accept the medal he so richly deserved. But the Marines of 96th Company, 2nd BN, 6th Marines remembered him, and I hope you will too.
As I promised, a compilation of all the History Lessons to date is now available for anybody interested. Simply email me, and let me know whether you would prefer a PDF or a Word document.
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.
Semper Fi!

State of the NCO Corps August 13, 2011

Greetings Marines!

Here at my local NCO club, the annual Pity Party for those unable to attend the International Muster is in full swing, and I have to say that while the fireworks display may have seemed like a good idea at the time, a certain soon to be demoted again corporal should be reminded to check for flammable vegetation in the immediate vicinity. But after the excitement died down, I am back in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark, where seldom is heard a discouraging word that does not apply to Prigal, and you will be happy to know that some of us older non-coms still can react pretty darn quickly in an emergency.

As Sergeant Major of the Corps, one of my duties is recognizing the efforts of some of our outstanding enlisted Marines. To that end … GSGT James “Fireball” Maarsingh, Front and Center!
Having weighed a strong field of candidates carefully, and with the assistance and input of the entire SFMC General Staff, it is my pleasure to announce that you have been selected as the winner of this year’s Star of Honor. Your significant efforts in community service, coupled with your outstanding leadership set a standard for every enlisted member of the Corps. Well done, Marine!

Of particular note is that the bulk of Gunny Maarsingh’s long list of accomplishments in 2010 came while he was busy at his day job: serving as a US Army Sergeant in a combat role in Iraq. My eight point is not only tipped, it is completely off to this outstanding NCO.

While I am on the subject of awards … LCPL Noah Cook, Front and Center! It is my pleasure to announce that your efforts in community service and your demonstrated leadership, especially for one of your age group, set a standard for Cadet NCOs throughout the Corps, and thus it is my privilege to award you the Cadet Star of Honor. Well done, Marine! Keep up the outstanding work.

Something that stood out in the nomination for LCPL Cook was that he has apparently been doing his homework in the MFM, as he is actively engaged in recruiting more Marines of his age group into the Corps in addition to making strong efforts in community service. He may be young, but he seems to understand the duties of an SFMC NCO.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the winner of the Cadet Cross of Honor, CDT SGT Anya Walker. This makes two years in a row this outstanding young NCO has been awarded this ribbon. All these fine cadets are the future of the SFMC, and from where I sit, the future looks very bright.

I must note in passing that the process of selecting the annual Honor award winners is both uplifting and frustrating at the same time. Uplifting, because it gives me a look at the best of the best that the SFMC has to offer, both officers and enlisted. Frustrating, because choosing the best of the best of the best is a task involving a lot of careful thought and soul searching, and the eventual winner often comes down to a slight edge in one of the listed criteria for the award. There can be no ties, and the nomination must speak for itself. My congratulations to those who made the job even harder by writing some thorough and outstanding nominations this year. You served your fellow Marines very well.

Returning to the duties of an SFMC NCO, I would like to share some information I got this past month about a Marine who seemingly never lets down in the area of community service. CDT CPL Alexandra Shepherd, who I have brought to your attention in the past, just keeps on going in her efforts to help others. In addition to some of her ongoing works, she started a project called Right 2 Read, which has so far distributed over 1500 brand new books to over 500 families who can not get books otherwise. She was also reportedly raring to get started on collecting for Toys for Tots this year … in July. Sounds like a plan to me, Marine.

As a reminder on the OTHER duty that SFMC NCOs are charged with, FORCECOM is looking for someone to handle a new Recruiting and Retention program they plan to roll out. Please contact FORCECOM if you are interested for further details.

I have completed my promised second round of data collection and analysis on the numbers of enlisted members, and will be making a complete report soon. For those who can not wait, it looks like the estimates I made based on my first round of data are holding up, but there were a few interesting things that popped up this time.

Now, it’s time for Top’s History Lesson. Belleau Wood is a name that all Marines should be familiar with, and it was the scene of many acts of heroism by enlisted Marines. But, perhaps one of the greatest of those acts is one that went almost forgotten for years, and that even today few have even heard of.

During an intense barrage of both high explosive and gas shells, GSGT Fred William Stockham noticed that a wounded Marine’s gas mask had been shot away. Well aware of the personal consequences of his actions, he removed his own gas mask and fitted it to his wounded comrade. Unprotected against the effects of the gas in the trenches, he then directed and assisted in the evacuation of the wounded until he finally collapsed. It took him two days to die from the exposure to mustard gas he received as a result of his selfless actions. His company CO said of his actions "No man ever displayed greater heroism or courage and showed more utter contempt of personal danger."

His body was returned to the US in 1920, and buried in an unmarked grave, near his only known relative, his foster mother. (Stockham was an orphan) In St Louis, an American Legion post was named in his honor. And there the matter would have ended except for the actions of his former company CO.

In the late 1930s, former 2nd Lt. Clifton B. Cates, who would become Commandant of the USMC in 1948, discovered that the Medal Honor recommendation he had written for Stockham had gone astray, and along with Barret Mattingly, the Marine who received Stockham’s gas mask, he set about to having the actions of the forgotten hero recognized at last. In December of 1939, over 21 years after that night in Belleau Wood, GSGT Fred Stockham was finally awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous and selfless actions.

There are no known photographs of the man whose 37 years of life and long service as a Marine were cut short by one act of courage. (The only image I could find is one of a painting in the American Legion post that bears his name.) Since he was an orphan, there was no next of kin to accept the medal he so richly deserved. But the Marines of 96th Company, 2nd BN, 6th Marines remembered him, and I hope you will too.

As I promised, a compilation of all the History Lessons to date is now available for anybody interested. Simply email me, and let me know whether you would prefer a PDF or a Word document.

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.

Semper Fi!