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State of the NCO Corps, December 2011
Greetings Marines!

Well, once again I am coming to you from the booth in the back in the corner in the dark of the local NCO club, where everybody talks about the weather (often in terms I can’t use here), but nobody does anything about it (on account of the Prime Directive – the locals do not have weather control technology), and forgetting to uncover even when in civvies is a round bought for the house unless you immediately produce your sidearm for inspection.

Now, pop quiz time: where is the FIRST place you should turn to answer questions about the SFMC? Let me put it this way, Marines: every time you ask a question where the answer is clearly spelled out in the MFM, somewhere a cute, innocent little kitten gets promoted to 2LT. Please, think of the poor kittens, and read your MFM first. If the answer is not in there, or does not seem clear to you, your next step is to reach out for a clarification through either the SFMC Chain of Command or the NCO Chain of Support.

(And, as the Dant indicated in the State of the SFMC, right about now-ish would be a great time to bring up things you think need clarifying or including)

By The Book, a primary focus of the SFMC NCOs is taking the lead in their unit/chapter when it comes to community service projects. I want to take this time to remind all Marines that community service does not always mean finding a big national or international cause to get behind. Community service can be something as simple as volunteering to spend some time cleaning up a local park, or helping a small town library shift a bunch of books around. The SFMC offers some rewards for community service activities, but, really, the biggest reward is in knowing that you gave someone who needed it a hand. No matter how small the community you live in, there is ample opportunity for Marines to make a difference. No effort is too small, and please let me know of special efforts’ in your units so I can give you due praise in this report.

By now, your annual Tots for Tots campaign should be in full swing, and I certainly hope that you are also busy collecting non-perishable food items for donation to your local food bank under the Fleet Admiral’s Campaign. As usual at this time of the year, I will put in a plug for my personal pet project: helping those who need warm clothing to get through the winter.

When I first took on the job of SGM/SFMC, the perception was that the enlisted members of the Corps were a fairly small minority. Best guesses ranged around the 10-15 percent range. (We call that anecdotal data). But, nobody had any real numbers to back that up, and so in 2011 I began a project to collect some real data and get some feel for how many of my fellow Marines were in the enlisted ranks.

Beginning with the reports filed for February of 2011, I grabbed a sample of 5 SFMC brigades, and began the labor intensive process of going through their reports, and counting how many Marines were enlisted. The sample consisted of BDEs of various sizes, and in widely separate geographical locations, and ended up being about 40 percent of the SFMC’s total strength.

I came up with some numbers that frankly surprised me. It turns out that, based on this data sample over time, we can expect about one Marine in four to hold an enlisted rank for any given reporting period (The actual data sample is closer to 28 percent, but includes a BDE whose percentage of enlisted members is significantly outside the range of the other 4 BDEs in the sample.) On average, the data predict any given BDE to consist of roughly 20 to 30 percent enlisted members. Of course, some BDEs will fall outside this range, either high or low.

And, saving the best for last, it appears that, overall, the percentage of enlisted members in the data sample is actually slowly trending upward by a couple of percentage points.

So, to sum up, there are more enlisted members in the SFMC than anybody (including me) would have guessed, and those numbers are, at worst, remaining a constant significant fraction of the overall SFMC membership over time, and may actually be slowly but steadily increasing.

To put those numbers in context for the overall STARFLEET organization we are all members of: roughly a quarter of STARFLEET are either Active or Reserve Marines. Doing the math, that means about one member in sixteenof STARFLEET is likely to be an enlisted Marine.

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.

Now, it’s time for Top’s History Lesson. Back in November, I chanced on a news photo that, frankly, sent a thrill through me. Taken at the Veteran’s Day parade in New York City, it showed a smiling young US Marine crouching next to an old man in a wheelchair, wrapped in a blanket against the cold. The young Marine was 23 year old SGT Dakota Meyer, the newest living recipient of the Medal of Honor. The old man braving the chill of a November day (by all reports directly against his doctor’s orders) was 94 year old Nicholas Oresko, who back in January of 1945 was Master Sergeant Oresko, C Company, 302nd Infantry Regiment, part of Patton’s 3rd Army.

Near Tettigen, Germany, on January 23, 1945, C Company was pinned down by heavy fire from enemy bunkers, and their advance had stalled. Oresko, displaying outstanding courage, single handedly attacked one of the bunkers with a grenade, and followed it up with point blank rifle fire, clearing the strong point. Another bunker opened up with its machinegun, hitting Oresko in the hip, but the gutsy NCO continued to lead his platoon forward despite a serious wound. Weak from loss of blood, he then, on his own, attacked the second bunker with a grenade, and finished it off with his rifle. Oresko refused evacuation until he was assured that C Company’s mission had been successfully completed. Citing his “quick thinking, indomitable courage, and unswerving devotion to the attack in the face of bitter resistance and while wounded”, on October 30, 1945, President Harry Truman awarded Oresko the Medal of Honor.

Fast forward to 2011, when Oresko got out of the car he was riding in during the Veteran’s Day Parade, wanting to “march” with the rest of the troops being honored. It was then that cameras captured the youngest and oldest living recipients of the Medal of Honor together. The respect and joy on the face of SGT Meyer is easy to see as he shared a moment with someone else who had been there, done that, and wondered what all the fuss was about.

In their minds, they were just soldiers, doing what had to be done. Maybe that’s true … if the job in question is being a genuine hero. All I know is the image of those two outstanding men, the past and the present together, made my day, and learning of Oresko’s stubborn determination back in 1945 and again in 2011 served as a reminder: never underestimate a good NCO.

I will forego my usual “Semper Fi!” this month, and close by thanking each and every one of you for your outstanding efforts and good fellowship this past year, and wish you all the best during this holiday season.

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