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Inside Corporal’s Course
by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Timothy Valero
April 3, 2018

“I am the backbone of the United States Marine Corps. I am the Marine non-commissioned officer,” corporals and a select few lance corporals stand proud as they begin to recite the non-commissioned officers creed during their Corporal’s Course graduation ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6).

Corporal’s Course is a Professional Military Education course designed to provide mentorship and expand the professional and personal knowledge of NCO’s to be. This two-week course took over one hundred Marines from the across the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Aviation Combat Element, Ground Combat Element and Command Element, and brought them together reinvigorating their core values, teaching them the fundamentals of being small-unit leaders.

“The purpose of Corporal’s Course is to give the Marines tools to be effective non-commissioned officers and leaders,” said Sgt. Jose Lopez, a network specialist with the 15th MEU and a Corporal’s Course instructor. “These corporals will soon have Marines under their charge, if they do not already, and the knowledge they learn during the course will prepare them with the skills, knowledge and courage they will need.”

The academic knowledge is not simply read from a slide on a screen or a page in a book. The lessons taught are brought to life by the instructors. It is the duty of those instructors to share their personal experiences, stories and lessons learned from their time in the Marine Corps with the students to help them relate the information to their own life, job and experiences.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit 18-2 Corporal’s Course graduates and their instructors pose for a group photo after the graduation ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Jan. 15, 2018. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance regional partnerships and serve as a ready-response capability for any type of contingency. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jacob Pruitt)
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit 18-2 Corporal’s Course graduates and their instructors pose for a group photo after the graduation ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Jan. 15, 2018. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance regional partnerships and serve as a ready-response capability for any type of contingency. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jacob Pruitt)

“I really appreciated the opportunity to stand up in front of the students and teach them the lessons I have learned throughout my time as a non-commissioned officer,” said Lopez. “I never really had anyone sit down with me and give me the advice we get to give to these Marines. If I can improve the [military] careers of just a few of these students than I believe I will have made a difference in the Corps. I will know every hour spent instructing these Marine has been worth it.”

The Marines attending the course receive several instructional periods on subjects such as basic infantry tactics, communication, operations, land navigation, career progression, promotion system and military drill. The goal of the classes are to give the Marines the knowledge needed to better them professionally and personally while giving them the tools needed to return to their Marines and share their knowledge.

The NCOs’ growth does not stop in the classroom, they are also taught how to confidently and proficiently handle the NCO sword and guideon for formation and ceremonies. By the time the Marines are presented their certificates, they had countless hours of coordinated military drill practice with the NCO sword and guideon manual bridging the gap between present day Marine Corps and the rich traditions of the past Marine Corps, while also instilling the Marines with a sense of pride and honor that will follow them.

“Whether you were newly promoted to corporal or have been a corporal for years, this course will teach you something either about yourself, your job or the Marine Corps,” said Cpl. Jonathan Ramkissoon, a cyber-network operator with the 15th MEU. “It taught me the value of personal responsibility and how big of a difference it can make for people to be able to rely on me, or have a junior Marine look up to me as positive mentor for them to emulate.”

Master Gunnery Sgt. Torain Kelly, the operations chief with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and guest of honor for the 18-2 Corporal’s Course graduation ceremony presents Cpl. Johnathan Lacount, the class honor graduate, with his graduation certificate during the Corporal’s Course graduation ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Jan. 15, 2018. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance regional partnerships and serve as a ready-response capability for any type of contingency. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jacob Pruitt)
Master Gunnery Sgt. Torain Kelly, the operations chief with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and guest of honor for the 18-2 Corporal’s Course graduation ceremony presents Cpl. Johnathan Lacount, the class honor graduate, with his graduation certificate during the Corporal’s Course graduation ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Jan. 15, 2018. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance regional partnerships and serve as a ready-response capability for any type of contingency. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jacob Pruitt)

The skills and knowledge the Marines in the course received will be taken back to every shop, office, unit, squad and workspace improving core leadership positions while providing junior Marines with NCOs who embody the Marine Corps core values of honor, courage and commitment.

Throughout the course of this deployment, the 15th MEU held multiple courses on each ship of the America Amphibious Ready Group, leaving each Marine with the responsibility of small unit leadership and teaching them that although today they may instruct and supervise in peace, tomorrow they may lead in war.

“Though today I instruct and supervise in peace, tomorrow I may lead in war.” – An excerpt from the Marine Corps NCO creed.

by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Timothy Valero
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2018

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