ABOARD USS KEARSARGE (Off the coast of North Carolina) -- For those that follow the activity of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU), it would be known that last year the MEU gave up a great Marine, but the Marine Corps gained a hard working warrant officer. Warrant Officer Donald Johnson, II Marine Expeditionary Force Embark Officer, was selected to the Warrant Officer commissioning program in December 1999 and was appointed in February 2000.
Now the 24th MEU is two months into its predeployment training and just after activation Oct. 20, SSgt. Joel Carpenter, 24th MEU embarkation chief, got the word that he has also been selected for the Warrant Officer program.
A Corbin, Ky. native, Carpenter graduated from Corbin High School in 1990 and joined the Marine Corps in Aug. 1992 and eight years later he's about to become a warrant officer, and never expected to stay in the Marine Corps past four years.
"I was just going to do my four and get out," he said.
Carpenter came into the Marine Corps 'open-contract' and was assigned the military occupational specialty (MOS) 2542 - communications center operator, assigned to 7th communications battalion in Okinawa, Japan.
After a year, he served in a security force billet for three years at the Naval Aviation Depot in Cherry Point, N.C.
After Carpenter's tour of duty at the Naval Aviation Depot, he made a lateral move to the MOS 0431-Embarkation and served as embarkation noncommissioned officer (NCO) for Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 28 in Cherry Point, N.C. for six months.
He then served one year as embarkation NCO for Marine Aircraft Group 12 in Iwakuni, Japan for one year.
Upon his return to the Continental United States, Carpenter was the surface embarkation chief for Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Carpenter joined the 24th MEU in July 1999 and now holds the embarkation chief billet.
Carpenter expressed interest in the Warrant Officer program a few years ago when he was with 2nd Marine Division. His supervisor was a former warrant officer, and he explained to Carpenter what the job of an embarkation Warrant Officer entailed.
"To me, embarkation at the MEU level is like no other," said Carpenter. "You're moving an entire MAGTF. There's a certain challenge associated with being an embarkation Warrant Officer and the individuals who ultimately make the decision of who becomes a Warrant Officer realize the challenges faced in a MEU."
"The MEU has been a great stepping stone for me," he added.
Some of the people who have come in contact with Carpenter have really enjoyed working with him.
"SSgt. Carpenter is one of the most professional and knowledgeable Marines that I have had the honor to work with in the embarkation community," said WO Johnson. "He is a dedicated and devoted Marine, husband, and father, and that dedication to duty has earned him the right to be selected as a Warrant Officer in the USMC. I know that he will continue to influence and impress many
"Job well done SSgt. Carpenter," he added.
"SSgt. Carpenter is without a doubt the best all-round Marine that I have had the pleasure of working with during my 17 years of service in the Marine Corps," said Capt. Frank White, 24th MEU Embarkation Officer. "For a Marine that picked up the secondary MOS of 0431 a few years ago, he is truly the best I've seen. His work ethics, troop leadership, personal character, professionalism and dedication to the team are unmatched. The success of this MEU's embarkation abilities is highly contributed to SSgt. Carpenter's abilities to plan and lead."
SSgt. Carpenter has drawn from his experience in the embarkation community to assist in making his decision to become a warrant officer.
"I have had the fortune of working with some great embarkation officers," he said. "My decision to apply for the warrant officer program was based off of the challenges associated to that position, as well as having the opportunity to impact the way the embarkation community conducts business."
"Captain White and myself have had a great working relationship with each other," said Carpenter. "He has opened my eyes in the past 18 months on the responsibilities and challenges that come with the rank of Warrant Officer."
"His selection to warrant officer was not in the least surprising to me," added White. "I knew from the moment I met SSgt. Carpenter, he would be selected to the Officer Corps ranks. I feel extreme gratitude in his selection, but will miss the wealth of embarkation experience he brought to the MEU."
SSgt. Carpenter will pin on the rank of warrant officer February 2001.
He is also married to Jennifer and they have three daughters; Emory,6; Aryona, 4; and Kyarra, 5 months.
Follow the 24th MEU predeployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.