November is an auspicious month in the FRA universe. For starters, the Association will mark its 91st birthday on November 11th, commemorating the date that our founding fathers established the Fleet Reserve Association in Philadelphia. George Carlin and Bob White had a vision to give the enlisted community a voice on Capitol Hill and I think they’d be pleased to know the work they started back in 1924 continues to pay dividends for enlisted personnel and their families today.
That date is also the day our nation pays tribute to its veterans — all who served in uniform. Veterans’ Day is a day to honor their service and sacrifice, and FRA will host and/or be represented at a variety of ceremonies and services around the country, including the national Veterans’ Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. Many military retirees don’t see themselves as veterans, but everyone who served and was honorably separated from service can proudly claim the title, as well as a variety of benefits available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). FRA’s involvement with veterans isn’t limited to parades and speaking engagements on November 11th. Our legislative advocacy includes work to protect and enhance the VA benefits our members earned through their service to our nation.
November also includes the Marine Corps’ birthday and many FRA shipmates will celebrate the Corps’ 240th year of existence on November 10th. In honor of this important occasion, we’ve chosen to highlight an icon of the Corps — USMC Drill Instructors — as the subject of this month’s feature story. I had the privilege of interviewing some of the senior leadership of the Drill Instructor School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. By coincidence, I happened to be there on a recruit training graduation day and it was truly awe-inspiring to see hundreds of newly-minted Marines, all sinew and pride, walking around the base. Most were accompanied by parents, grandparents, siblings and girlfriends who all wore obvious signs of pride in their Marine — smiles, adoring looks and t-shirts emblazoned with messages such as “My son is a Marine.”
As part of my research for the story, I asked Marine Private Cole Forbey, a new graduate from Bravo Company, what he’d learned from his DI that he thought would serve him well during his USMC career. “Discipline, ma’am,” he replied, without hesitation. “When your parents tell you to clean your room or do something, you can blow it off. But there’s no slacking here. And that discipline becomes a habit.”
Forbey’s response illuminated several points. His military bearing, manners and confidence were those of a Marine, one who had earned the title and would represent the Corps well. His reference to the household tasks he’d “slacked” on before recruit training spoke volumes about how young he truly was. And his immediate and direct answer confirmed that his DI had, indeed, taught him the primary lesson he’d need during his USMC career. Well done, Private Forbey. You and your DI should be very proud!
Lauren Armstrong is FRA’s Director of Communications and serves as the Managing Editor of FRA Today. Please contact her at email@example.com. Return to Table of Contents
Drill Instructors and Company Commanders: Mentoring Future Leaders
This month’s FRA Today feature story highlights the Drill Instructors (DIs) of the Marine Corps, and I’d also like to acknowledge Company Commanders (CCs) of the Navy and Coast Guard boot camp, all of whom are mentors and role models for each new generation of service members. This duty requires a lot of patience, understanding, and dedication to the development of the sea services’ future leaders. These men and women give of themselves far beyond a 40-hour work week, dedicating themselves to this unique and demanding type of duty, molding raw recruits into proud sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel.
Who can ever forget those early days of our careers when we entered boot camp? We might have expected it to be a kinder and gentler form of introduction to military life than it was. We might have envisioned being welcomed with open arms as we walked through the gates, but that vision was quickly replaced with the very real, yelling-and-screaming, in-your-face environment we would experience every minute for the next several weeks. Whether it was at Paris Island, Great Lakes, San Diego, Orlando, or Cape May, those early days in our careers formed the very people we are today. My “CC” was MM1 Gary Muzingo, a young, vibrant First Class Petty Officer who was responsible for the molding and shaping of over 100 young men into a cohesive unit of rapid response, self-motivated individuals, with the correct moral stance to do what was expected when we were called upon. We came from all walks of life and all parts of the country, and after six short weeks, we were sent out to our initial training commands or our first duty stations. We were pumped, charged up and physically and mentally prepared to be sent to the fleet; we were READY!
For me, boot camp was over 50 years ago, but many of the lessons I learned there are with me still. The essentials of training and development are little changed in terms of discipline and personal development. The methods and technology used for delivering the message have changed dramatically, but the tenets of our ‘initial training’ still prevail.
Boot camp has a mission to break down paradigms and develop new abilities. It is the foundation on which leadership skills are built — skills that extend through military careers and beyond. As veterans and retirees, we carry on that attitude and respect well after our military service and find that we have incorporated those early lessons from boot camp into our daily lives.
We can help those nervous and impressionable recruits by helping our recruiters. Give those Career Centers/Recruiting Stations a call and ask, “How can I help?” Who knows? You may even be assigned a “pen pal” to encourage through his or her boot camp experience. This is the true meaning of being a veteran: “A seasoned master from the past, engaged to mentor others for the future.” This is what shipmates do to show our continuing interest in and support of those who served and are now serving. PRESS ON…and Happy Veterans’ Day, shipmates!
John D. Ippert was elected to serve as FRA’s national president during the 2014–2015 Association year. He is a member of Honolulu Branch 46 and can be reached at 808-623-3521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.