MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
In the hot morning air the voices of experienced sergeants rang out, motivating and encouraging Marines through a simulated combat environment at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Aug. 27.
On a physical training field near the Cherry Point headquarters building, a group of Marine corporals dressed in boots and utilities maneuvered their way through the combat fitness test and into the final leg of their leadership course.
For Cherry Point Corporals Leadership Course Class 274-12 this was the most fitting way to start the morning of their last week of the course.
“Conducting a CFT during the course is very important because as Marines and leaders we need to set the example,” said Cpl. Tammy K. Hineline, a combat videographer with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 and a student of Class 274-12. “The physical training during the course was extremely challenging for everyone.”
The last week is geared to be the most challenging but most beneficial because of the academics test and practical application of that knowledge, said Sgt. Lindsey Philpot, an instructor for the course.
“No matter your [military occupational specialty] every Marine is a rifleman,” said Philpot. “With that said they need to know and experience combat leadership roles.”
After two weeks of classes and discussions, it was time for the Marines to get hands-on and practice what they learned.
They drew fire sketch plans, conducted land navigation exercises and wrote a five-paragraph order, a precisely detailed combat plan for a unit of Marines.
The Marines were given a scenario and basic information, and were required to come up with a plan to engage the enemy and accomplish the mission.
For most of the Marines, this was the first time they had written a five-paragraph order, said Gunnery Sgt. Valdez R. Baker, staff noncommissioned officer of the course.
“The purpose of writing one is so they can understand how a commander’s intent would directly affect them as squad leaders or platoon sergeants when they deploy,” said Baker.
Baker added he had Marines who are with aviation units but have deployed with ground units where skills like the ones they teach during week three are vital to mission success.
The instructors teach time-tested lessons passed from generation to generation of Marines, to build confidence in their ability to take charge, said Philpot.
“One of my [master gunnery sergeants] told me this principle: ‘to be a good leader you must first learn to lead your peers and second, learn how to be led by your peers,’” said Philpot. “During week three that’s what they did. They took orders and they gave them.
“If you can’t take orders from someone of your same rank, how can you effectively give orders?”
Philpot said the corporals become more effective leaders after going through the course and that he would have confidence in them to take charge and lead a patrol in a combat environment.
To cement the knowledge and skills they have learned during the course, the class endured a comprehensive examination on the last training day, Aug. 31. The exam tested them on all material covered throughout the course and required specific answers vice multiple-choice questions.
After passing that barrier the Marines who completed the course were able to enjoy an extended Labor Day weekend, and returned Sept. 5 to conduct a motivation run followed by their graduation ceremony.
For Hineline, the course has reignited the fire inside her to take charge as a leader of Marines.
“Corporals course has given me a renewed sense of leadership,” Hineline said. “I encourage every corporal to do it.”
Philpot said he hoped he passed on his passion for the Marine Corps to the students
“After the Marines gave their toasts during mess night, I took them aside and asked them if they knew what they were toasting to,” said Philpot. “Do you know what happened? Do you know the significance of toasting to the Marines of World War I or Vietnam?
“I do this because I want them to pride themselves in knowing their history.
“That’s why we do what we do, because those Marines gave their lives so we can carry on their legacy.”
Editor’s Note: This article is part three in a three-part series about the first Professional Military Education Course enlisted Marines attend, Corporals Leadership Course.