BEAUFORT, S.C. --
To the people who have changed us-- thank you. When I sit down and truly think about what made me want to be a United States Marine, it was not the millions and millions of dollars spent on commercials and advertisements, though they did plant the seed, or the thought of travelling the world. It was the feeling inside of me that I was meant to be a part of something bigger than myself.
I know that I do not speak for all Marines and why they joined the Corps. However, what I do know is that every Marine has that “someone,” that someone who facilitated their path, that someone who showed them they too could accept the challenge and earn the hallowed eagle, globe, and anchor, and the title United States Marine.
For myself it was a Marine who sat down with me over a cup of coffee, hers served black, while mine came with cream and sugar. We were in a library when she showed me that I could be, “part of the few” and that anything was possible as long as I put my mind to it.
For countless young men and women, their someone has a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of 8412, which is the numerical code for a career Marine Corps representative, “recruiter.” They are the few that made the decision to change their MOS to an MOS that would take them away from the fleet Marine force, travelling the world, their families, and more often than not, their original motivation for joining the Corps. You are probably thinking what is this MOS and why would any Marine want that?
The men and women who choose to become 8412s are the same men and women who keep the Corps and its’ traditions alive. Without them, the Corps would not continue. Without them, the Corps would not have United States Marines. 8412s make the decision to become lifetime representatives of the Marine Corps. Once the symbolic transformation from black and white lettering nametags to nametags made of shiny artificial gold takes place, on their infamous Dress Blues, their transformation is complete.
The gold nametag marks them. They are now responsible for training the next generation of Marine Corps representatives, recruiters, who will walk the streets, the malls, the school halls, and answer the calls, in order to find those young men and women who have what it takes to become United States Marines.
Out of the few who are donned with the gold nametag, even fewer reach the status of Master Gunnery Sgt. Javier Hidalgo, Master Gunnery Sgt. Elvis Johnbaptiste, Master Gunnery Sgt. Paul Davis Jr., and Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Lawrence.
These four men share the highest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps, but more importantly, they share a passion and desire to find the next generation of Marines-- all to leave the Corps in a better place than where it was when they joined.
Each of them has spent over 12 years developing young men and women and showing them that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. Whether that is a junior Marine they are developing and training, a young high school student who is nervous to take the next step, or if it is that mother or father who doesn’t think the Marine Corps is the best option for their baby. These men have spent countless hours putting the Corps and Country above themselves, their family, and their own aspirations.
Their job is often thankless and unforgiving but these four Marines, from fighting holes, more formally known as recruiting stations (RS) and districts, across the southeastern region of the United States, are finally getting the recognition they deserve. For the intangibles and the tangibles, these men are being recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty and for changing the lives of countless families from Charlotte, North Carolina to Puerto Rico. Hidalgo, Johnbaptiste, Davis, and Lawrence are being inducted into the 6th Marine Corps District’s 8412 Hall of Fame.
As new inductees to the Hall of Fame, their pictures and names will hang among the other legends of 6th Marine Corps District. Their faces marked by the hours spent training and developing Marines and future Marines. Their chests marked with the accolades they have received over years of service to Country and Corps. Nevertheless, what isn’t shown are the lives changed by these men. The countless lives of young men and women from across the country because these men were their “someone,” their someone who showed up and showed them that they can achieve the unthinkable as long as they put their mind to it.
So, thank you. Thank you master gunnery sergeants for everything you have done, everything you are doing, and everything you’ve yet to do for our beloved Marine Corps.
A United States Marine