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    Depot Marines earn 2011 Musician of the Year title

    Depot Marines earn 2011 Musician of the Year title

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Katalynn M. Rodgers | Marines gather around Sgt. Ryan Jones, musician, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Forces...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Katalynn M. Rodgers 

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego

    SAN DIEGO -- Twenty-four Marines from across the Marine Corps competed to become the Corps’ top enlisted musicians. They were measured by their proficiency as Marines, musicians and leaders. Only two, one staff non-commissioned officer and a non-commissioned officer, would come out on top and earn the title of Musician of the Year.

    This year, two of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego’s band members earned the title of Musician of the Year

    Sgt. Ryan C. Jones and Staff Sgt. Jonathan P. Bley were selected and will be recognized at a ceremony during the annual Marine Corps Music Leadership Symposium in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 13.

    “I’m really excited to know that my Marines won this,” said Master Sgt. Stephen Jeremiah, bandmaster, Service Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion. “It lets you know your unit is doing something right. When you bring something like this home, everyone gets to celebrate, not just the individual.”

    This award is Marine Corps-wide, with an SNCO and NCO being nominated from each of the 12 Marine Corps bands. The musicians are then evaluated much in the same way as a board. The Marine’s rifle qualification scores, physical fitness test, combat fitness test and swim qualification scores are looked at along with other criteria.

    They are also evaluated by their impact on their unit and going above and beyond their every day duties.

    “Most people think being in the band is easy,” said Jeremiah. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

    Staff Sgt. Bley, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., has been the small ensemble leader for Marine Band San Diego since July 2009. The small ensemble executes approximately 65 percent of the unit’s mission, and the leader is responsible for the coordination of logistics and musical product for that 65 percent.

    “Being nominated for this shows me that hard work, dedication and giving 110 percent still means something,” said Bley. “It’s nice to be awarded for doing that.”

    Bley was also the acting bandmaster, which is usually a master sergeant or master gunnery sergeant position – at least two grades above Bley’s. As acting bandmaster, Bley developed the unit’s operational plan, rehearsal schedule, training schedule, daily operational schedule and evaluated all band requests that were received.

    “I’m humbled and honored by winning this,” said Bley. “I am willing to do the hard jobs, and do them to the best of my ability. I take absolute ownership of my assigned mission and attack it until completion. I thrive on increased responsibility.”

    Bley is also a Marine Corps Martial Arts Black Belt Instructor Trainer. He makes it a priority to train Marines in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. He also trains and leads three martial arts instructors within the band. He has directly led 75 hours and supervised 315 hours of martial arts training and combat conditioning.

    “Staff Sgt. Bley always loves sharing knowledge with his Marines,” said Cpl. Sean Yellin, musician, Service Company, H and S Bn. “It didn’t matter if it was about his music ensemble or every day Marine tasks.”

    This recognition allows Marines in his charge to emulate his example and see what hard work has done for him and do that for themselves.

    “He’s a good Marine, and he cares a lot,” said Jeremiah. “It shows in his actions, he demonstrates it by being at work very early and staying very late, all for one purpose – to take care of his Marines.”

    Jones, a native of Penfield, N.Y., leads his Marines by example. It shows in his musical proficiency score, he plays the French horn at a 3.04 level which exceeds the required level for a SNCO in the band. He was a member of the brass quintet and has been a featured soloist with the Concert Band.

    The musical proficiency score is a score used to determine how good a musician is. It is based on a 4.0 scale, and an applicant for the band military occupational specialty needs a 2.7 to be accepted.

    “I’m very thankful for the mentors and leaders I’ve had over the years,” said Jones. “It feels good to know you are doing something right.”

    Jones was the operations non-commissioned officer in charge, a position that is normally assigned to a SNCO at Marine Band San Diego. This position is critical to the accomplishment of their mission.

    “Sgt. Jones is a motivator,” said Lance Cpl. Kristian Simonis, musician, Service Company, H and S Bn. “Everything he did was out of the kindness of his heart. He was a great musician and an even better Marine. He was 100 percent Marine before a musician, everything he did was ‘oorah Marine Corps.’”

    Some of the duties as the operations NCOIC are making sure that all temporary assigned duty orders are submitted correctly and on time, logging unit statistics and commitment logistics. They also need to make arrangements for transportation of Marines while they will be traveling with the band.

    “Sgt. Jones put a lot of time in to contribute to these Marines,” said Bley. “His goal was overall improvement of the unit. He had spent plenty of his off hours training his Marines in MCMAP.”

    Jones has trained Marines within and outside of the band for 124 hours in MCMAP. He has aided in the advancement of many Marines to higher belts.

    “My prime directive is taking care of my Marines,” said Jones. “Showing a true interest in them, their personal life, family, work and their accomplishments. No one outside of the Marine Corps will like another Marine does.”

    Jones says that he puts his Marines first and sets the example for them to follow. He says that if his Marines run faster than him, he will get up in the morning earlier and run, if they can do more pull-ups than him he will be working to get stronger and set the standard. He believes that as a leader, especially a sergeant, it is imperative to act like a Marine and care.

    “Jones is hyper, but in a good way,” said Jeremiah. “He’s like your double shot of energy for the day. He has a great sense of humor and loves to train. Nothing makes him happier than being a Marine. You know the saying ‘if it ain’t raining, we’re training?’ Well, no matter the weather, you’ll find him training. He constantly strives to better himself in every way.”

    The band is constantly practicing, traveling or playing for ceremonies. This doesn’t leave much down time. However, Jones would go out of his way to help his junior Marines.

    “Sgt. Jones made me want to be a better Marine,” said Yellin. “Being a martial arts instructor, he was very physically fit and had a very motivating personality when he was at work.”

    These Marines have brought an accomplishment to their unit that all can celebrate, and for those under their charge to emulate.

    “This gives our young Marines something to look forward to,” said Jeremiah. “It gives them something to strive for.”



    Date Taken: 11.30.2011
    Date Posted: 11.30.2011 15:10
    Story ID: 80730
    Location: SAN DIEGO, CA, US 

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