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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit


15th Marine Expeditionary Unit

America's Vanguard Force

Camp Pendleton, CA
15th MEU corporals gain knowledge, leadership skills

By Cpl. Timothy T. Parish | | October 1, 2008

Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit graduated Corporals Course 1-09 Oct. 1, training in the fundamentals of Marine Corps leadership.

The Corporals Course aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5), a nearly two-week class, focused on the fundamentals of being a Noncommissioned Officer, building on the foundations of a Marine’s career, according to Staff Sgt. Warren B. Niccum, Artillery Liaison Chief , India Battery, Battalion Landing Team 2/5, 15th MEU.

“[Corporals Course] gives them a chance to be with their peers and intermingle with Marines in other [Military Occupational Specialties] in the Marine Corps,” said Niccum. “It allows the Marines to hone their leadership skills and to get a lot of instruction that they would not get otherwise.”

During the course the Marines learned the basics of sword manual and guideon handling, as well as military justice, customs and courtesy and Marine Corps history, according to Niccum, who also served as Squad Advisor during the course. The day-to-day functions and responsibilities learned during the course make corporals better suited to lead other Marines, Niccum continued.

“Corporals and the NCO Corps are the backbone of the Marine Corps. They’re the small unit leaders. They go out and they’re responsible for their fire teams and their squads and they go out and get the job done,” said Niccum, a native of Marseilles, Ill.

For a lot of corporals, the deployment cycle leaves little time to attend a Corporals Course, according to Cpl. Michael W. Heede, Squad Automatic Weapon Gunner, Combat Engineer Detachment, BLT 2/5, 15th MEU. The course aboard USS Peleliu allows Marines to build on their leadership skills while underway, said Heede.

“First, we received a whole lot of great knowledge like basic leadership traits and advanced tactics of war fighting. We also got general knowledge on how to keep track of finances and military justice.”

For the Marines who took part in the course the training was invaluable, according to Heede, a native of Lancaster, Pa.

“It’s important to take part in Corporals Course because it teaches the building blocks and fundamentals of being a leader,” said Heede. “It is imperative and I think every corporal should go.”

For some Corporals who have advanced through the junior ranks faster than their peers, the learning curve can be steep, according to Cpl. Terrance M. Nesbitt, Radio Operator, Command Element. Corporals Course allows those Marines to gain a better understanding of how to lead, Nesbitt said.

“Now days, people are getting promoted fast and they sometimes haven’t been in long and don’t have the same experience as some other corporals,” said Nesbitt. “Going to corporals course gives Marines the knowledge to lead Marines.”

Also, Corporals Course gives junior NCOs a broader view of how the Marine Corps operates, said Nesbitt, a native of Charleston, S.C.

“Being a corporal is the first step in being an NCO,” said Nesbitt. “Corporals Course is one step to learning more than just your MOS by learning about the whole Marine Corps.”

The Camp Pendleton, Calif. based 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines and Sailors and is a forward deployed force of readiness capable of conducting numerous operations, such as Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, Humanitarian Assistance Operations and a wide range of amphibious missions. The 15th MEU is currently deployed aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5), USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).