ON BOARD USS PELELIU, At Sea – Marine corporals with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit began the first Corporals Course aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu, July 12.
The course is designed to provide the Marine corporal with the education and leadership skills necessary to lead Marines.
“Like any other period of instruction, it aids in the professional and life-long development of our Marines,” said 1st Sgt. Thomas M. Burkhardt, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment and director of the course.
The program of instruction places emphasis on leadership foundations and a working knowledge of general military subjects.
“It gives the Marines two weeks of integration and training,” said Burkhardt. “Later in their career, they draw off the knowledge learned throughout the training,” added the Darien Center, N.Y., native.
Initially the course was going to be a non-commissioned officers course and not credited as an official Corporals Course.
“Our concern was about not having an area of operation for practical application,” stated Gunnery Sgt. Evan W. Clayton, assistant headquarters commandant, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and lead instructor.
“Eventually the determination was made that as long as the program of instruction was taught we were good to go,” said Clayton. “We want to maintain the integrity of the course the best we can, considering the surroundings,” added Clayton.
The course is the first of four that will be provided during Western Pacific Deployment 10-01. Burkhardt hopes to see all four courses filled with Marines.
“When you think a Marine is too valuable to lose for career development, all you do is weaken that Marine and the Marine Corps,” said Burkhardt. “The Corps needs well rounded Marines, not just Marines who are proficient in their occupational specialty.”
The shift in routine should be a welcomed change by those Marines attending.
“Here on ship it provides a different forum to feel productive and they should enjoy it,” said Burkhardt. “Some of the best lessons you learn at PME school are from the real-life stories shared by your peer group.”
For one corporal, the goal while attending the course is obvious.
“Teach me how to train Marines,” said Cpl. Scott W. Meier, expeditionary airfield technician, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (Reinforced). “I’m hoping to leave with the tools that will help me train my Marines,” he added.
Within the first couple days, the 24-year-old native of Porterville, Calif., realizes the significance of attending.
“You always hear that NCO’s are set apart, now I understand why and how,” said Meier.
This work, Course Provided to Corps’ Backbone, by SSgt Kenneth Lewis, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.