Congratulations TBS Honor Graduates
The Marine Corps Association & Foundation presented five awards to honor graduates from The Basic School during the Delta Company graduation at Marine Corps Base Quantico Little Hall on Wednesday, 12 December.
Maj Dan Dowd, Commanding Officer of TBS Delta Company, said the honor graduates bring a diverse set of skill sets, personality and leadership to the Corps and each will succeed in their individual Military Occupational Selection (MOS).
“I think you’re going to see these names on promotion boards, awards, and you’re going to see these names a long time to come because of their desire to be a good Marine officer and their accomplishments so far,” Dowd said.
The Marine Corps Association & Foundation sponsors the honor graduate awards for each TBS Company, as well as awards for many enlisted and officer training schools.
Dowd said the awards are important to recognize the students’ success.
“They’ve put forth the effort and they’ve done the best in the company so they should be recognized for that,” Dowd said. “It sets them apart. I think it’s important to recognize those who achieve it and put it out there as something to strive towards.”
Congratulations to 1stLt Paul Mower for earning the 1stLt Baldomero Lopez Honor Graduate Award, 2ndLt Patrick Whalen for the Leadership Award, 2ndLt Jorge Secada-Lovio for the Military Skills Award, 1stLt David Heuwetter for the Colonel William B. Lemly Award for Academics and 2ndLt Patrick O’Mara for the Mitchell Paige Medal of Honor Mustang Spirit Award.
The TBS honor graduate awards are presented through the MCA&F Marine Excellence Awards program. Each year MCA&F gives awards to recognize nearly 11,000 deserving Marines and provides about 97 percent of all awards distributed in the Corps outside the USMC awards system. The program offers tangible recognition of professional accomplishments and recognizes the honor graduates throughout the Marine Corps officer and enlisted formal schools.
The 1stLt Baldomero Lopez Honor Graduate Award – 1stLt Paul Mower
Honor graduate 1stLt Paul Mower spent months before TBS preparing for the instruction both mentally and physically.
“I spent a lot of time before TBS looking over the pubs I knew we would read and working out to get into shape and I think that went a long way to get a head start,” Mower said.
Mower grew up in Plainfield, Illinois and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and then attended Harvard Law. After TBS he will attend Naval Justice School and then report to Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Parris Island for two years.
Mower said he feels honored to be selected as the honor graduate and said his success at TBS is attributed to his Sergeant Platoon Commander (SPC) Capt Ademola Fabayo.
“My SPC was phenomenal and taught me more about leadership than anyone before,” Mower said. “He made sure everyone in the platoon put forth the effort that would be required of them in the fleet.”
Capt Fabayo said he “was very proud and very happy” when Mower was selected as the TBS honor graduate.
“Every position I’ve ever put him in he has always outperformed everybody physically and academically,” Fabayo said. “I very much respect him and if you have to pick somebody as honor grad I think he’s very deserving. I think he is a great guy and he’s an asset to the Marine Corps.”
The namesake honor graduate award is in remembrance of 1stLt Baldomero Lopez’s actions during the amphibious assault of Inchon during the Korean War in 1950. When he was leading his Marines over the seawall, he was shot in the chest while holding a live grenade. Without the strength to throw it, he cradled the grenade to protect his Marines from the explosion.
“At The Basic School, we are constantly taught the importance of caring for our Marines and of placing their needs above our own,” Mower said. “The life of 1stLt Baldomero Lopez, specifically his selfless actions at Inchon, exemplify this model of servant leader. It is a tremendous honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as him.”
Maj Dowd said namesake awards are important to the culture and teachings of the Marine Corps.
“Our building is named after 2ndLt Donald McGlothlin who was killed in Iraq,” Dowd said. “I think it’s important the Marines know the lineage and the legacy of the Marine Corps and try to uphold what Marines have set forth. Connecting the current and past is important and to not lose sight of what they’re doing in the larger timeline of the history. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Mower has been a member of the Marine Corps Association & Foundation since he started TBS. He said it’s important to pay dues to the association to support the Corps at large.
“(MCA&F) provides a lot of benefits to Marines, especially enlisted Marines,” Mower said.
He subscribes to the paper copy of Leatherneck and the digital copy of the Marine Corps Gazette.
“Leatherneck is an entertaining quick read, which is why I prefer the paper version, and the Gazette is a great scholarly work for the Marine Corps so I get all my academic style reading from there,” Mower said.
Leadership Award - 2ndLt Patrick Whalen
Although 2ndLt Patrick Whalen said he was surprised at winning the TBS Leadership Award, his Staff Platoon Commander (SPC) said Whalen was a natural from the start.
“It wasn’t a huge surprise,” said Capt Mathwick, Whalen’s SPC. “Anybody who met Lt Whalen right away could know he’s got something special as far as the way he approaches a problem with his natural leading abilities.”
Whalen attributes his leadership performance to his fellow lieutenants. “I think it’s a combination of having good people to work with,” Whalen said. “I ended up with a great platoon with folks willing to work well together and for me when I was in charge.”
Whalen will put his leadership skills in play as he starts his training for military police at his five-month school in Fort Lederworld, Missouri. Whalen will then be stationed at Marine Corps Base Pendleton with his wife, Kristi, and their two daughters: Georgia, 4, and Jane, 2. “
I was interested in intelligence and infantry and I think military police combines a lot of the aspects of both of those fields,” Whalen said. “I get to lead a platoon so that was a big plus as well.”
A Michigan native, Whalen enlisted in the Marine Corps at 19 years old and transitioned to the officer side through the MSEP program after his graduation from the University of Michigan.
As a member of the Marine Corps Association & Foundation, Whalen said, he enjoys reading the monthly Marine Corps Gazette professional journal.
“It’s where all the folks who are interested in what’s going right or wrong with the Marine Corps and where we’re going and where we came from duke it out intellectually,” Whalen said. “I also want to thank the association for the award.”
Military Skills Award - 2ndLt Jorge Secada-Lovio
2ndLt Jorge Secada-Lovio said he relied on prior experience of being an Eagle Scout and on a shooting team to help be the recipient of the Military Skills Award.
“It feels good,” Secada-Lovio said. “I worked hard but I had a lot of luck too.”
A Baltimore native, Secada-Lovio graduated from Virginia Tech. He was selected for a combat engineer MOS and will be stationed at Marine Corps Base Pendleton.
“He did really well,” said Capt Dotterer, Secada-Lovio’s SPC. “Within the platoon he was a stud in terms of the physical activities. He was the go-to-guy and I was very proud of him.”
Secada-Lovio is a member of the Marine Corps Association & Foundation and always reads the Marine Corps Gazette each month. He said reading the professional journal is part of having “situational awareness” as a Marine.
“I like seeing all the controversial issues everyone brings up, seeing what everyone is thinking and if they agree with me or not,” Secada-Lovio said. “You got to know what’s going on. It’s important to develop yourself and continue your education with the current issues.”
Colonel William B. Lemly Award for Academics - 1stLt David Heuwetter
1stLt David Heuwetter said the secret to his academic success at TBS was to study with friends. He said he would regularly organize groups each week so the students could help each other learn the material.
“They give you all the resources you need and all the instructors are a wealth of knowledge and they’re there to help you,” Heuwetter said.
Heuwetter is from Iselin, New Jersey and attended the United States Naval Academy. He was selected for a combat engineer MOS and will be stationed at Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms.
“With Heuwetter, he’s a smart cat and not just academically,” said Capt Seville, Heuwetter’s SPC. “He was up on the leadership side as well and he has the drive and work ethic to do well.”
Mitchell Paige Medal of Honor Mustang Spirit Award - 2ndLt Patrick O’Mara
2ndLt Patrick O’Mara said it’s “an honor” to receive the Mitchell Paige Medal of Honor Mustang Spirit Award. O’Mara enlisted at 23 years old and spent ten years in the Corps earning the staff sergeant grade. A Middleton, Ohio native, O’Mara earned his undergraduate degree from the Miami University of Ohio.
“What they teach you at TBS is that it’s all about serving the enlisted,” O’Mara said. “Winning this award is truly an honor because it acknowledges the past experience and the transition to the officer ranks. It’s exciting.”
O’Mara was selected for the ground intelligence MOS (Military Occupational School) and will begin Infantry Officer Course in January. “O’Mara consistently had leadership across the board,” said Capt Seville, O’Mara’s SPC.
Although O’Mara is grateful to be recognized for his prior service, he said being a mustang is not crucial to success at TBS or in the Corps.
“Being prior enlisted doesn’t make you a better officer,” O’Mara said. “Your future is determined by yourself and how you lead your Marines. The role is the same for everyone; for the guy who just came out of college and for me who has been in for ten years.”
O’Mara has been a member of the Marine Corps Association & Foundation for the past year and said he enjoys reading the Marine Corps Gazette professional journal.
“I like the articles because you can get a lot of good information about current events going on right now.”