MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - While motivation is a trait that most Marines have, it is an attribute that stands out in some Marines more than others.
According to Sgt. Maj. Peter W. Ferral, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron sergeant major, his motivation started from birth.
“I come from a Marine Corps family. My father was a Chief Warrant Officer 4 and he spent close to 34 years in the Marine Corps and instilled in me what it’s like to be a Marine,” said Ferral. “The honor, courage and commitment are what he gave and taught me as values.”
Ferral decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and begin his own Marine Corps journey after a motivated childhood.
Ferral reported to his first duty station, Marine Barracks Washington 8th & I, after graduating from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Infantry Training School, where he continued to develop his love for all Marine Corps things.
Esprit de Corps is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group.”
Esprit de Corps is what Marines live and breathe in the Marine Corps, according to Ferral.
“There was one saying I was taught when I was a (private first class) and that was, ‘The best unit in the Marine Corps is the one that you’re in,’” said Ferral.
Hearing that phrase influenced Ferral to start taking more pride in himself, his unit and his title of United States Marine.
With pride came more motivation. Ferral said when he was a young private first class and lance corporal, he was accused of being too motivated.
On one account, when Ferral was a lance corporal, he was presented with a challenge.
“Another lance corporal said to me, ‘You know, if you’re so motivated, then why don’t you wear your Alphas out on liberty,’” said Ferral.
“You know what, that’s a good idea. I’ll wear my Alphas out on liberty tonight,” Ferral responded.
Ferral changed into Alphas that night after liberty call sounded and went to a club in downtown Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Ferral became a drill instructor later in his career where he saw the principles of leadership, which his previous leaders taught him, become more clear and meaningful.
“All those little things you learn about leadership reinforce motivation and that’s what I have been doing for the past 27 years,” said Ferral.
His motivation is reinforced when other Marines show motivation by improving themselves, learning new lessons and showing it the same way he used to at a younger age, said Ferral.
“Every Marine fails from time to time, but when I see that lesson learned and I see the growth of a Marine from the transition from a lance corporal to a corporal and they realize why their higher ups did what they did, that reinforces my motivation,” said Ferral.
Ferral said, his family is one of the largest factors to his motivation and his drive to carry on as far as he has today.
“Without my wife and daughter and their support through the past 17 years, I don’t think I would be where I am today, even with the motivation of Chesty Puller,” said Ferral with a chuckle. “What a wife and family do really puts it into perspective of what it is to be a Marine, and why I’m serving the Marine Corps.”
Master Sgt. Lionel A. Saulsberry, department chief and station postal chief, has worked with Ferral since his arrival on station in July 2011.
Saulsberry compared Ferral’s motivational impact on the Marines under him as steel sharpening steel.
“The fact is that (his motivation) is not fake, it’s genuine,” said Saulsberry. “Sergeant Major Ferral is genuine. It’s good to be surrounded by people who constantly bring up the morale. In my opinion, it challenges me and other Marines to step up their game.”
Motivation for Ferral comes from his life experiences, Chesty Puller and family, but overall Ferral concluded his Marine Corps motivation in a simple phrase: “It’s for the love of the Marine Corps over many years. I love what it stands for, and I love being a Marine.”