News: Instructor dedicated to future enlisted leaders
Story by Cpl. Paul Peterson
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - He paced the field and quietly made his way from one squad to the next. His time with the Marines was almost over.
Sgt. Ryan J. Schmidt, the chief instructor for 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s Corporals Course, patiently offered advice on tactics and maneuvering as his students prepared for their final head-to-head challenge here Feb. 5 and 6.
The three squads of Marines were on their own within an hour. They locked horns in a cat-and-mouse game of patrols and ambushes throughout their wooded training field, where Schmidt served only an as observer.
A machine gunner by trade, the 25-year-old native of Kaukauna, Wis., rededicated his time to fostering the young leaders of the Marine Corps. The veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan threw himself into the task nearly one year ago and has seen approximately 350 corporals pass through his classes.
Schmidt and the other instructors at Corporals Course spend an average of four weeks drilling each group of Marines on the duties and responsibilities of a noncommissioned officer, military traditions, leadership styles, fitness and small-unit tactics.
“It seems like no matter where I go, I see them,” said Schmidt. “Just to see the amount of influence myself and the other instructors have had on NCOs within [2nd] MLG from the time we have been here is amazing.”
It means hours in the classroom for students and instructors alike. It also means pain and sweat as they put their bodies through the forge of physically demanding challenges designed to push Marines to their limits.
“They definitely find their breaking point,” said Schmidt, “but they leave equipped with a lot more knowledge than what they came to us with, and their physical abilities are absolutely enhanced.”
The students gained confidence as well. Many of the corporals even move on to higher leadership positions shortly after they graduate the course, he added.
“The biggest thing is to make it stick,” said Schmidt. “How do I [as an instructor] make it stick?”
After volunteering to work at the course and passing the screening processes, Schmidt took on the challenge with vigor. Training the unit’s NCOs came before anything else for him.
The dedicated instructor is comfortable in the knowledge that his wife and three children are safe. It is his students who weigh most on his mind.
“It’s the Marines that come through here,” he said. “If they need me, I’m here. If they need the other instructors, they’re here. I tell them the first day they check in with us, if they need me to stay here from day one all the way until the day they graduate, night and day, I will be here.”
Making his lessons stick means using a variety of teaching methods, said Schmidt. The course is filled with a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on experience and practical application.
“If you can impact [the Marines] and influence them, they take that away and bring it back to their unit and influence the Marines that are subordinate to them,” he said. “I have a real love for it.”