News: Brick, N.J., native named Parris Island’s top Marine Corps drill instructor for 2013
Story by Cpl. Caitlin Brink
PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. - Once a graduate of Lima Company here, one Marine not only returned to train its recruits but to become Parris Island’s top drill instructor last year.
Gunnery Sgt. Christian Appleman, who is now a chief drill instructor for Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, was presented the award Feb. 3, 2014, during a ceremony in Quantico, Va.
According to his citation, Appleman has embodied the mission of the Marine Corps and assisted in the personal and professional development of Marines. His leadership, diligence, enthusiasm and mentoring allowed his recruits and fellow Marines to achieve a greater level of success than their peers during the recruit training cycles.
“I remember what my drill instructors were like,” said Appleman, 31, from Brick, N.J. “It’s not something I’ve always wanted to do, but because of how my drill instructors were and how they trained me and the fact that I will remember them forever, I wanted Marines to remember me and the stuff that I would want them doing in the Corps.”
Appleman enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2005, graduating with Lima Company in December. After two deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and one deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Appleman reported to Parris Island’s Drill Instructor School in 2011. As one of the top two students in his class, Appleman was a distinguished graduate.
Appleman notes that his career, which was picked through with a fine-toothed comb in order to qualify for the award, was impacted by the Marines around him.
“Every single drill instructor that you come in contact with makes an impact on you and your career,” said Appleman. “That many high caliber Marines in one unit, you won’t see that anywhere else in the Marine Corps. [What] other people have learned from me, I have learned just as much if not more from them.”
The Marine Corps is famous for its teamwork and sense of brotherhood. Appleman encourages his fellow drill instructors to always stand as the top 10 percent of the Corps.
“That means that every single second and every single day, you are giving everything that you have to that recruit,” said Appleman. “Teaching them stuff, whether its drill, cleaning or on the [physical training] field, you have to give everything you have. All of your energy goes to that recruit in order for the process to keep going.”
As part of the 2013 Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Combined Award Program, drill instructors first compete for the award against one another within their company, then at the battalion, regimental and eventually depot level. The year’s top two drill instructors from Parris Island and its counterpart in San Diego are matched up for the Corpswide award. Gunnery Sgt. Michael Wampler, a chief drill instructor in San Diego, won overall. Both drill instructors were meritoriously promoted to gunnery sergeant as a result.
“You have at any given time about 650 drill instructors [on the depot],” said Sgt. Maj. Chet Houston, Recruit Training Regiment sergeant major and one of the judges. “Only one is selected, so it’s kind of a big deal.”
As a drill instructor, Appleman produced three honor platoons, was selected as the battalion drill instructor of the quarter and twice selected as the senior drill instructor of the quarter for Lima Company.
“Being a drill instructor is the most humbling thing you can do,” said Appleman. “You work with the best Marines you will ever work with in any unit in the Marine Corps.”
Appleman’s personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star in lieu of second award, the Combat Action Ribbon, and the Staff Sergeant Carlous M. Perry Memorial Award for Superior Leadership, a company-level award.
“This has been the most rewarding thing I have done in my life,” said Appleman. “The sacrifice, the pain, the suffering, the competition, the process, everything … they talk about you have to be immersed in the whole process of making Marines. Well you can’t not be – it consumes you. Making Marines consumes everything you are.”
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