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    Marine Promoted to Master Sgt. By His Recruiter and Senior Drill Instructor

    Marine Promoted to Master Sgt. By His Recruiter and Senior Drill Instructor

    Photo By Sgt. Dana Beesley | Master Sgt. Justin Gregory stands with his recruiter Master Gunnery Sgt. Dinky Byers...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Ryan Hageali 

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island           

    The most influential people in a Marine’s career are often their recruiters and drill instructors. Gunnery Sgt. Justin Gregory was promoted to the rank of master sergeant by both.
    Gregory grew up in Lynchburg, Va., wanting to be a Marine since he was a child. He saw the confidence and pride that Marines had and desired that for himself.
    “I wanted to be a Marine since I was 8 years old,” said Gregory. “I was in the mall my junior year and I had a grey Marine t-shirt on; the whole recruiting substation was in the mall. I was like a deer in headlights, they all looked at me. That is where I first ran into my recruiter; now Master Gunnery Sgt. Dinky Byers.”
    Gregory went through high school attending physical training sessions with Byers. Byers said that Gregory, who was extremely excited and motivated to become a Marine, was a recruiter’s dream.
    “He was always driven,” said Byers. “He was driven as a young poolee and he just wanted to be a Marine and he wanted to be the best.”
    Gregory started recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in 2003; one week after he graduated high school.
    “Bootcamp for me was exactly what I expected it to be,” said Gregory. “It was hot, I was worn out all the time, and the drill instructors were very intense.”
    As much as Byers impacted Gregorys career, someone who also molded him into the Marine he is today is his senior drill instructor, Master Gunnery Sgt. Doug Mrusek.
    “It was like you could put him on a poster,” said Gregory. “He is the perfect example of a Marine. He had this certain level of intensity and volume. He could make you feel very upset with yourself if you didn't give 110% of yourself.”
    After Gregory graduated recruit training, he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and completed a tour as a recruiter alongside Byers. Now Gregory is stationed at MCRD Parris Island as the depot career planner and was selected for the rank of master sergeant in December 2019.
    While contemplating on who would pin on his master sergeant rank, Gregory immediately thought of his recruiter and drill instructor.
    “It was in the back of my mind on who would pin me,” said Gregory. “I was talking it over with my wife one night and I said they are both here it would be cool, and she was like yeah, absolutely you should totally ask them.”
    Mrusek always enjoyed seeing his former recruits find success in the Marine Corps, but being able to promote Gregory to Master Sgt. was special.
    “To see what you made now 17 years later with [Gregory] is really a rewarding thing,” said Mrusek. “I was one of the very first ones to have an influence on his career and to see how successful he’s been is a testament to his work ethic and his abilities, not mine. To have the opportunity to promote him, there’s no better feeling.”
    Byers said he was honored even to be considered to promote Gregory to master sergeant.
    “I am completely honored he asked me to promote him,” said Byers. “I have known him and his family since before he joined. I was also his operations chief when he was on recruiting duty and have worked with him for multiple years. This is very special to me.”
    Gregory was promoted to master sergeant on July 1, 2020 and was pinned by Byers and Mrusek.
    “Every Marine in the Marine Corps had a recruiter and they had a drill instructor; someone that got them here, and someone who turned them into a Marine,” said Gregory. “This is just another opportunity to show them my appreciation.”



    Date Taken: 07.01.2020
    Date Posted: 07.17.2020 15:18
    Story ID: 374139
    Location: PARRIS ISLAND, SC, US 
    Hometown: LYNCHBURG, VA, US

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