24th MEU (SOC) hones leaders while deployed

1 Jan 2003 | Cpl. Jeff Sisto

Marines and Sailors from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) recently completed a challenging Consolidated Corporal's Leadership Course while aboard the USS Nassau (LHA-4).

In the middle of a busy deployment and on a hectic ship, the course proved to be both challenging and rewarding to both its members and instructors.

"It was tough fighting for space in training areas and getting flightdeck time," said 1st Sgt. Timothy McCurry, Course Director. "We endured many 12-hour days in order to complete our schedule and ensure the curriculum matched the Marine Corps University curriculum. Ultimately, we came together with ship personnel to make it happen."

Regardless of limited space, a full day of course requirements needed to be taught. Course members were expected to learn platoon drill, uniform inspections, Technical Military Instruction procedures, leadership classes, customs and courtesy classes, counseling techniques, as well as rigorous physical training every day. When a normal training day was not possible due to space and time constraints, the course forced Marines to adapt to their surroundings to accomplish their mission.

"If the flight deck was not available, we would still find innovative ways to PT," said Cpl Jeremy Frick, operations clerk, from Bend, Oregon. "We learned there are plenty of ways to PT in confined areas."

"Many of the classes were held at night after most people finished their working hours," said Staff Sgt. Toshia Moore, course instructor from Spokane, Wash. "Study groups met to go over all of the customs and courtesy classes dealing with uniform regulations, fraternization, sexual harassment, and Marine Corps history. Drill was practiced anywhere we could find space."

"Combat wouldn't be a perfect environment," said Cpl. Joseph Richardson, navigator, Radio Battalion Detachment, and the class "Gung Ho Award" winner from Philadelphia. "So I think it will benefit us going through this course in adverse conditions."

The instructors also exhibited flexibility by volunteering more than 300 hours of their own time, in addition to their regular jobs, to develop the NCOs.

"Our intent was to pass on knowledge and ensure they left with a basis of Marine Corps customs and leadership skills," said Staff Sgt. David Wallis, Deputy Course Director from Wichita, Kansas.

"A Corporal is the first level of leadership - they need to be taught correctly to maintain effective small unit leadership," said Moore.

"I definitely learned some things I didn't know before like female uniform regulations and drilling with swords," said Frick.

Despite the non-traditional conditions, the 28 Marines were able to successfully complete the course and emerge as refined Marines and capable leaders.

"Their level of professionalism and eagerness to learn is a lasting impression of the new breed of Marines coming up through the ranks and it makes our efforts as instructors worthwhile," said Wallis.

"I'm proud of everyone involved," said McCurry. "We have accomplished everything we set out to do, and did it all within the confines of the ship."