USS NEW YORK --
The Marine corporal exemplifies the foundation of the Marine Corps’ noncommissioned officer core. Their job, at its simplest, is to lead a small team of fighting men and women. It comes with the responsibility to set the standard and take care of their Marines. As leaders are made, the Corps trains their own for success.
Marine corporals with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit learned basic leadership skills during Corporal’s Courses held aboard the USS New York from October to December 2012 while deployed with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group.
The Marines focused on the essentials of small-unit leadership and counseling to build the confidence of these young Marines to lead the future of the Marine Corps, said Staff Sgt. Robert Mendoza, the chief instructor and Santa Fe Springs, Calif., native.
“It’s really about teaching them NCO leadership and preparing them to lead and mentor their junior Marines,” said Mendoza.
During the course, the Marines learned sword manual, land navigation, counseling, proficiency and conduct marks, mentorship, after action reports, constructing and executing a training program, as well as other facets of leading Marines.
“They have definitely increased their leadership abilities… As corporals, they are the first echelon of leadership,” said 1st Sgt. Jason C. Petrakos, course staff noncommissioned officer in charge and Alpha Company 1st sergeant, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th MEU.
As in any industry, leadership methods vary according to the trade and the individual. As such, the instructors taught different ways to supervise so the corporals have more options to begin developing their own technique.
“There are different leadership styles,” said Sgt. Michael M. Schoonover, 26, an assault amphibious vehicle assistant section leader with Alpha Company and Van Wert, Ohio, native. “They learned how mentoring can be more effective than just screaming, in some situations. They are there to help their Marines, so it’s more like a teacher to student relationship.”
The young corporals also learned the value of education regarding their development and also their subordinates.
“They became more familiar with developing their NCO leadership with knowledge,” said Sgt. Somnang Stolfa, 28, an amphibious assault vehicle section leader with Alpha Company and Brockport, N.Y., native. “If you’re a leader without knowledge then you’re just another Marine walking around and collecting a paycheck.”
Throughout the course, they received advice that harkened back to the responsibilities of Marine corporals as the backbone of the Corps and standard bearer and mentor for their junior Marines. So they left the course with more than a sense of their responsibilities and skills, but also new friends and fellow leaders.
“Meeting these guys and getting to know them and study with them has been good,” said Cpl. Bryan A. Powell, 25, a data systems specialist with Alpha Company and Lubbock, Texas, native. “After MCT (Marine Combat Training) we all leave with this common skill set (of war fighting). But as we spend more time in the fleet we lose those skills. This course has allowed me to learn those skills again with the infantrymen. It brings us all back to ‘every Marine is a rifleman’ first, then our job second.”
Training continues on the USS New York as Marines maintain their readiness for whatever the future may hold.
The 24th MEU is deployed with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and is currently in the 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility as an expeditionary crisis response force. Since deploying in March, they have supported a variety of missions in the U.S. Central, Africa and European Commands, assisted the Navy in safeguarding sea lanes, and conducted various bilateral and unilateral training events in several countries in the Middle East and Africa. The 24th MEU is scheduled to return to their home bases in North Carolina before the end of the year.