MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – On a crisp Dec. 10,
2013 morning, a classroom fills with chatter as Marines discuss the
day's coming lessons. The class first sergeant, sharply dressed in
her service uniform, stands at the position of attention at the head
of the classroom. Her ribbons perfectly centered and aligned, every
crease neatly pressed and her shoes shined so brightly they could be
used as a mirror.
“Class, Attention!” she announces with authority. Marines
instantly snap to the position of attention with their elbows locked
out and hands clenched shut, thumbs along their trouser seams.
Staring straight ahead, she shouts with confidence, “I am an NCO
dedicated to training new Marines and influencing the old. I am
forever conscious of each Marine under my charge, and by example
will inspire him to the highest standards possible. I will strive to
be patient, understanding, just and firm.”
The class roars
back every word of the Noncommissioned Officer Creed.
words fill the classroom and can be heard echoing down the empty
Among these Marines stands Cpl. Ashton Tyler,
warehouse clerk, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. To her, the words
she recites at the beginning of every class, and when returning from
lunch, remind her of the responsibility she is charged with.
As a newly promoted corporal, Tyler tries to define what it means to
be an NCO, the rank of E-4 and E-5, and hopes to find her answer
while attending Corporal's Course.
Corporal Ashton Tyler, warehouse clerk, 15th Marine Expeditionary
Unit, takes notes during a lecture on being a noncommissioned at the
Corporal's Course Academy aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 10,
2013. The academy's mission is to provide the Marine corporals with
the education and leadership skills necessary to lead Marines.
Tyler, 21, is from Charleston, S.C. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl.
“I volunteered to come here,” said Tyler, 21, from
Charleston, S.C. “I haven't had an opportunity to lead
junior Marines, and I know I will be leading them in our
next deployment. I want to do everything possible to make
sure I can lead them the right way.”
Course is designed to answer Tyler's questions. The four
week course provides corporals with the education and
leadership skills necessary to lead Marines by placing
emphasis on leadership foundations and a working knowledge
of general military subjects.br>
“Most of the Marines
that come here have a solid base of what it's like to lead,”
said Staff Sgt. David McFadden, faculty advisor, Corporal's
Course Academy. “Our job is to refine those skills so they
can return to their units and be well-rounded leaders that
mentor the next generation of Marines.”
desire to lead started as a child, when her grandmother
taught her about astrological signs.
“My grandma is
an Aries, and she always had a plaque on her wall,” Tyler
said. “The first thing that plaque said was ‘Natural born
leaders.' So growing up, she would always tell me that I was
going to be a leader one day.”
Being the oldest of
three siblings, Tyler had no choice but to lead.
lot of my leadership style comes from that experience,”
Tyler said. “I had to be strict but also empathize with them
to get whatever needed to be done. It's no different than
when dealing with Marines.”
After graduating high
school, she worked at multiple jobs but quickly found
herself unsatisfied and wanting more. Looking to a friend
who had enlisted in the Marine Corps for advice, she was
convinced this was the answer she was searching for.
“It was mixed emotions, but I knew I would succeed,” Tyler
said as she recalled her feeling after enlisting.
Immediately deploying upon checking into the 15th MEU, her
abilities were tested as she juggled working jointly with
“Working with the Navy seemed like a
big challenge, but I had great NCOs that taught me
everything I needed to know,” Tyler said.
leadership she received while deployed encouraged her
further to be an inspiration to those she would lead in the
“The first thing [Cpl. Tyler] said to me
after being promoted was, ‘I want to go to Corporal's
Course,'” said Staff Sgt. Clyde Harris, supply chief, 15th
MEU. Harris is Tyler's Staff Noncommissioned Officer. “She's
always eager to learn everything. If she doesn't know an
answer, she finds it.”
Tyler is halfway through her
time at Corporal's Course and says she is grateful for the
opportunity to learn from her instructors as well as her
“Working with corporals from all [military
occupational specialties] is great,” Tyler said. “I get to
see how other Marines handle different situations and I'm
getting a lot of ideas on how to handle different
Although she's long lost interest in
astrology, Tyler still feels as if she embodies what an
Aries signifies; a natural born leader eager to apply her
new knowledge to the 15th MEU.
By USMC Cpl. Emmanuel Ramos
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