"I am the backbone of the United States Marine Corps. I am the Marine noncommissioned officer,” recited more than 100 Marines during their Corporals Course graduation ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6).
Corporals Course is a Professional Military Education course designed to provide mentorship and expand the professional and personal knowledge of the Corps’ NCOs. This two-week course recently brought together corporals and a select few lance corporals from across the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Aviation Combat Element, Ground Combat Element and Command Element to reinvigorate their core values and teach them the fundamentals of being small-unit leaders.
“The purpose of Corporals Course is to give the Marines tools to be effective noncommissioned officers and leaders,” said Sergeant Jose Lopez, a network specialist with the 15th MEU and a Corporals Course instructor. “These corporals will soon have Marines under their charge, if they do not already, and the knowledge they learn during the course will prepare them with the skills, knowledge and courage they will need.”
The academic knowledge was not simply read from a slide on a screen or a page in a book. The instructors brought the lessons to life, sharing their personal experiences and lessons learned from their time in the Marine Corps so that the students could relate the information to their own situations.
“I really appreciated the opportunity to stand up in front of the students and teach them the lessons I have learned throughout my time as a noncommissioned officer,” said Lopez. “I never really had anyone sit down with me and give me the advice we get to give to these Marines. If I can improve the [military] careers of just a few of these students than I believe I will have made a difference in the Corps. I will know every hour spent instructing these Marines has been worth it.”
The Marines attending the course received several instructional periods on subjects such as basic infantry tactics, communication, operations, land navigation, career progression, promotion system and military drill. The goal of the classes was to give the Marines the knowledge needed to improve them professionally and personally while giving them the tools needed to return to their Marines and share their knowledge.
The NCOs also were taught how to confidently and proficiently handle the NCO sword and guidon for formation and ceremonies.
“Whether you were newly promoted to corporal or have been a corporal for years, this course will teach you something either about yourself, your job or the Marine Corps,” said Corporal Jonathan Ramkissoon, a cyber-network operator with the 15th MEU.
“It taught me the value of personal responsibility and how big of a difference it can make for people to be able to rely on me, or have a junior Marine look up to me as positive mentor for them to emulate,” said Cpl Ramkissoon.
The skills and knowledge the Marines in the course received will be taken back to every shop, office, unit, squad and workspace improving core leadership positions while providing junior Marines with NCOs who embody the Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment.
Throughout their deployment, the 15th MEU held multiple courses on each ship of the America Amphibious Ready Group, leaving each Marine with the responsibility of small unit leadership and teaching them that although today they may instruct and supervise in peace, tomorrow they may lead in war.