Marines gathered from around the Corps at Marine Corps Base
Quantico, Virginia, May 11, 2016, for the Commandant of the Marine
Corps Combined Awards Ceremony.
The ceremony recognized top performing Marines serving in
B-Billets, as career planners and athletes from throughout the
Marine Corps. “Marines build teams,” said Gen. Robert Neller,
commandant of the Marine Corps. “You are here as an individual, but
I know you'd say you were successful because you were part of a
team. It's a great honor to present these awards.”
Each finalist was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation
Medal by Neller and Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green, the sergeant major of
the Marine Corps.
Top performing Marines from throughout the Corps stand at attention after being awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal at the Commandant of the Marine Corps Combined Awards Ceremony May 11, 2016 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. The ceremony recognized top performing Marine recruiters, drill instructors, combat instructors, career planners, security guards and athletes. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa arnath, DMA)
“The ceremony is about recognizing the men and women who
are globally impacting the Marine Corps by recruiting,
retention, training or security across the world,” said Sgt.
Maj. David Jobe, sergeant major of Marine Corps Combat
Development Command, MCB Quantico.
Two finalists from each category were recognized with one Marine
from each category announced as the winner. The categories of
recognition were Recruiter of the Year, Prior Service Recruiter of
the Year, Drill Instructor of the Year, Marine Combat Instructor of
the Year, Career Planner of the Year, Reserve Career Planner of the
Year, Marine Security Guard of the Year and a male and female
Athlete of the Year.
Gunnery Sgt. Francisco Soto, Recruiting Station San Francisco,
12th Marine Corps District was selected as Recruiter of the Year.
Gunnery Sgt. Eric Gulbranson, Recruiting Station Oklahoma City, 8th
Marine Corps District was selected as Prior Service Recruiter of the
Year. Gunnery Sgt. Miguel Cortes Jr., Marine Corps Recruit Depot,
San Diego, was selected as Drill Instructor of the Year. Staff Sgt.
Jonathon Manuel, School of Infantry East, Marine Corps Base Camp
Lejeune, North Carolina, was selected as Marine Combat Instructor of
the Year. Gunnery Sgt. Justin Gregory, Training and Education
Command, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, was selected as
Career Planner of the Year. Staff Sgt. Christopher Smith, Force
Headquarters Group, New Orleans, was selected as Reserve Career
Planner of the Year. Staff Sgt. Stacey Sherbert, American Embassy
Harare, Zimbabwe, was selected as Marine Security Guard of the Year.
Capt. Bryce Saddoris, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Camp
Lejeune, North Carolina and Capt. Christine Taranto, Naval Post
Graduate School, Monterey, California, both were selected as
Athletes of the Year. Soto, Gulbranson, Manuel, Gregory, Smith and
Sherbert were also meritoriously promoted to their current ranks.
Gifts were also presented to each finalist by the Marine Corps
Association and Foundation, the Fleet Reserve Association, USAA
financial services company and Geico.
“To the families who are here, thank you so much for supporting
your Marines,” said Neller. “I know it is not easy. I'm glad you're
here with us today.”
Family members of each finalist were also recognized with a
presentation of certificates by Neller and Green, for their
sustained faithful and devoted service and support of their Marines.
The CMC Combined Awards Program began in 1995 under the direction
of Gen. Charles Krulack, 31st commandant of the Marine Corps, by
recognizing the Recruiter of the Year. The awards have expanded
since to include the current categories of recognition. The
finalists were all recognized by their units as top performers who
competed against their peers throughout their command. The two
finalists competed against each other on a board to determine the
“It's very humbling to know I was selected from a group of
Marines who deserve this award just as much as I do,” said Cortes,
Drill Master, Drill Instructor School, Marine Corps Recruit Depot,
San Diego. “I think of this award also for the Marine drill
instructors on the West Coast because they work just as hard as I
The finalists from each category spent May 12 touring the White
House and Capitol building in Washington, D.C. with their families.
By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Melissa Karnath, DMA
Marine Corps News
The U.S. Marines
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