News: Marine earns NCO stripe meritoriously
Story by Nathan Hanks
ALBANY, Ga. - Since the birth of the Marine Corps, non-commissioned officers have led the charge on and off the battlefield. Whether serving in current operations in Afghanistan or supporting the warfighter from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, NCOs play a crucial role by providing the leadership necessary to accomplish the mission.
Cpl. Nicole M. Dickinson, ammunition technician, Logistics Support Division, MCLB Albany, defines an NCO as a leader who sets the example, takes care of Marines and gets the job done.
Dickinson, who was meritoriously promoted to the rank of corporal during a ceremony held at Building 3500, Friday, said she knew she was going to be a Marine since the 8th grade.
“When I was 13 years old, my mother mentioned the Marine Corps as a possible career,” she said. “Deciding to join the Marine Corps at a young age has given me a lot of time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I knew the Marine Corps would provide stability and I could use the G.I. Bill to pursue a college degree.”
The idea of being a Marine never strayed far from her mind given that she joined the Corps on Aug. 23, 2010, two months after graduating from Bloomfield High School in Bloomfield, N.Y.
Dickinson, who has been stationed at MCLB Albany for nearly two years, began preparing for her first meritorious corporal board in January.
“I didn’t have a guaranteed spot on the meritorious board so I studied like it was my job,” she said. “I had to compete against a Marine on a platoon level board, and whoever won the board would represent LSD on the meritorious corporal board.”
Dickinson took the platoon level board, Feb. 6, and began preparing for her next board, Feb. 10.
“I spent the weekend, before the first board, studying with Staff Sgt. Antiwon Sampson and Sgt. JoAnna Sudduth going over many subjects including drill, leadership, customs and courtesies, and current events,” she said. “In the evenings, Cpl. Edward Peifer helped me with my uniform and made sure I retained information from the Basic Skills Test and reiterated subjects I studied with Sgt. Sudduth.”
Dickinson said Sampson, Sudduth and Peifer made sure her uniform was at its best and worked with her on answering the board members’ questions confidently without losing her bearing.
“I worked more with Sgt. Sudduth going over everything from basic Marine knowledge to uniform regulations to how to report to the senior member of the board,” she said.
The morning of the board, Sudduth looked over Dickinson’s uniform and gave her a last minute pep talk to calm her anxiety.
“I had the honor of helping Corporal Dickinson study for the meritorious board and we physically trained together as well,” Sudduth, who is the legal assistance non-commissioned officer-in-charge for the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, MCLB Albany, said. “She just soaked in all of the information. She was hungry for the knowledge and pushed herself every moment.
“She is extremely intelligent, has a lot of heart and I know she is capable of great things,” Sudduth added. “She did all of the hard work necessary to get herself where she is today and I’m so proud of her.”
Dickinson’s countless hours of studying and preparing her uniform paid off.
“It really feels great to win the meritorious promotion board,” she said. “I wanted to be a corporal because I know I am ready to lead Marines. I know I’ll make a good leader and I just had to make the board members see that.”
The hardest part of the board was keeping her nerves calm and retaining knowledge, according to Dickinson.
“It’s not the end of the world, so I don’t know why I was so nervous,” she said. “I was shaking and I tried to hide it because I didn’t want it to affect my bearing. You also have to try and retain knowledge or else you have to cram as much as you can before the board. With the short amount of notice you get, cramming really isn’t an effective method.”
Dickinson competed for her first Marine of the Quarter Board in November 2011 but did not win. Even so, she viewed it as another experience to help her prepare better for the next board.
She encourages Marines to compete for meritorious promotions and other boards because the benefits outweigh the preparations.
“Preparing for the boards was very time-consuming and I had to pay close attention to detail,” Dickinson said. “Being promoted and becoming a leader are things Marines should work toward.”
Sgt. Maj. Conrad E. Potts, sergeant major, MCLB Albany, said Dickinson did a superb job on the meritorious corporal board.
“She came in with a take-charge attitude and not only looked squared away, but was squared away in her bearing, attitude and presence before the members of the board,” he said. “In winning the meritorious board, she has taken a huge step ahead of her peers and within her military occupation specialty as an ammunition technician.
“With her strong work ethic and can-do attitude, there is nothing she will not be able to accomplish,” Potts added. “The sky is the limit for this young, hard-charging Marine. She will no doubt become a sergeant major or master gunnery sergeant of Marines some day.”