Want to see your name in print? Here’s your chance.
Over a year ago I sent out an email to everyone in my address book asking for some stories about sergeants. My thoughts were to publish another book entitled “Only a Sergeant,” which was a spin-off from a chapter in my book with the same name. To my sheer disappointment, I received three replies— all from enlisted Marines. My officer friends either did not reply or informed me they had none. Are you shitting me? How could someone spend enough years in the Corps to retire and never observe a sergeant (or corporal) exercising leadership to the extent where you were impressed? Poppy cock! If you have none, then my only assumption is you isolated yourself from the troops to the degree where you were not able to observe any acts of leadership. So, come on, don’t give me that guff that you do not have any. That’s a cop out!
Okay, now that I got that of my chest, please allow me to explain my plan. For some reason, perhaps age, I have this feeling there is another book inside me that needs to come out. This is probably a result of what’s happening to our Corps as a result of all the Kool Aid drinkers we have within DOD, as well within our own ranks among senior officers.
If you read my book, one of the takeaways you should have had was that beginning with my days as a corporal and sergeant and throughout the rest of my career, I firmly believed the sergeant (and corporal) needs to run our units, not the staff sergeants or the gunnys, or God forbid the lieutenants. The sergeants (and corporals) are where the rubber meets the road. The sergeant is the one who holds reveille, orders clean up, falls them out for formations, etc. I know I am telling you something that I hope you already know.
I would like to publish another book, note I said “publish,” not write. I want you to write it. Your assignment is to send me one story about a sergeant (or corporal) where he/she exercised a leadership trait or principle to the degree where you were impressed. Perhaps, you were that NCO, so tell me about it. On the flip side, maybe you had a sergeant or corporal who was not a good example for others to follow. As a young Marine, I personally had lots of those early on, but I also had a load of the great ones that taught me leadership. Not ever Marine is an exceptional Marine, in fact, there are a few that aren’t worth a shit—my book points that out very well.
I envision a story (or maybe two if they are alike) per chapter. Each chapter should be about 1,000 words, which isn’t much (so far this doc is 469 words). PLEASE do not worry about such trivial matters as spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. That’s what editors do. Hell, if you had seen the first chapters I sent to my editor, you’d be laughing your butt off. Moreover, all publishers use a specific bible—it’s called the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), and they also use a certain dictionary as well. So, let the editors worry about those things. Just open a word document and PUT WORDS ON PAPER. It’s amazing what will come to mind when you start telling a story. Embellish? Of course, all “war stories” are embellished
Okay, all you Bills, Jim’s, Ron’s, Wayne’s, Ed’s, Marshall’s, Jay’s, Al’s, John’s, Larry’s, Pete’s Nicks, and so on—not to embarrass anyone by using last names—give me something! I will hound you until you do!
Lastly, I’d prefer to not isolate this endeavor to just the Corps. So, my friends from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, feel free to send me some examples from your service. I’m sure all our services are experiencing problems. Let’s give the young NCO/PO some examples to follow. For informational purposes for those who are unfamiliar with our grade structure our sergeant is an E-5, corporal is an E-4. Speaking of that—Marines, PLEASE do not, repeat, DO NOT send me a story about a “Sgt E-5.” There is no such animal. Most of you aren’t old enough to understand how that bastardization of our grade structure came about. It was between 1959 and 1963 when we had Sgt E-4’s and Sgt E-5’s. Since 31 July 1963 there has only been one sergeant in our Corps, and he/she is a SERGEANT—period. Stop calling them a Sgt E-5!
How about a quick example? Here is a much shortened version of one of the three stories I received that I cannot wait to publish it.
“Our platoon was TAD to Quantico for our annual qualification on the rifle range. We were billeted at the range in a squad bay. One of our three squad leaders was a superb NCO named Sgt Bennett. After firing on prequal day, Sgt Bennett announced that anyone in the platoon who did not fire over 200 today (actually 190 was qualifying as a marksman, but shooting in the 190’s was dangerously low) will muster with him at the 500 yard line berm after chow at 1800. He said, “Bring your rifle, shooting jacket, and score book.”
At 1800 we were all in a school circle and Sgt Bennett began going over some of the problems he believed we were having with qualifying. As he was talking our lieutenant was walking from the chow hall to his car; he stopped and yelled, “Hey Bennett.” Sgt Bennett ignored him and kept talking to us. This went on several times with the lieutenant getting louder each time. Finally, one of the troops mentioned to Sgt Bennett that the lieutenant was calling him. Calmly, he turned around facing the lieutenant and shouted, “Lieutenant, there is no Bennett up here, but there is a Sgt Bennett—Sir!”
Now, tell me that is not an excellent leadership story! Sgt Bennett taught that young lieutenant a great lesson that day, which I am certain he carried with him for the remainder of his career. I shortened the story quite a bit to only 106 words, it was originally 758 words, but can easily be expanded to 1000 words by explaining to the ill-informed (civilians) some details to better understand it.
Lastly, if you want to be named as the author, great. If not, we’ll simply call you anonymous. If you don’t want to use the sergeant’s real name, call him “Sgt Marine.” I kept adding “corporals too” when I spoke, so if the person was only a corporal, so be it, he/she is still an NCO striking for sergeant, maybe we’ll just promote him to sergeant—smiles.
OK, there’s your missions should you agree to accept!
PS. You can either click on the comments below and send it to me, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. However, I would suggest you create the story in a Word.doc, then simply attach it