MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marine expeditionary units represent everything the Marine Corps has to offer. Comprised of ground, aviation, logistics and command elements, the MEU can accomplish any mission from humanitarian assistance to major combat operations.
The Marines that comprise the MEU are the first responders to crises around the world. The success of the MEU is largely determined by young Marines dedicated to maintaining a force in readiness. However, this would not be possible without exceptional senior leadership.
Gunnery Sgt. Mickey Eaton, the assistant operations chief with Bravo Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, has developed his leadership skills throughout his 14 years in the Marine Corps. His outstanding leadership was recently recognized when he received the Navy and Marine Corps Association Leadership Award Sept. 26. Eaton strives to lead by the example and works hard to set his Marines up for success.
In this interview, Eaton describes how his leadership has developed and what it takes to be a good leader.
Q: What inspired you to join the Marine Corps?
A: I originally joined, at a late age I might add, because I needed a change in my life. I only planned on completing 4 years and moving on or going back to school. I greatly love the Recon Community and my job so I ended up reenlisting and then reenlisting again and now I will be here until I retire.
Q: Have you always been a good leader?
A: I wouldn’t say I was a good leader from the start but it came very natural to me. I did very well in high school with sports and played baseball in college. I think these [sports] understand leadership and my time in the Marine Corps has helped me develop that trait.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
A: I would describe my leadership style as being one of "set the example". You have to work 10 times harder than everyone else if you want to set your Marines up for success. It's all very simple, if you want your Marines to have a haircut on Monday, then so do you. If you want them to take pride in their uniform and look sharp, then so do you. Another big piece of setting the example is to never ask the Marines to do something you wouldn’t. You must also remind them and show them that in the Recon Community, you no longer represent yourself. You now represent your Team, Platoon, Company, Recon Community, and Marine Corps. We pride ourselves on being constant professionals. And if they see you doing that then so will they.
Q: What is the hardest part about being a good leader?
A: The hardest part is how much a good leader in this community cares. If I didn’t really care about the Marines being successful or the Recon Community being successful, then my job would be a great deal easier. But I do care, I care very much. So the time, effort, sacrifice, pain and the sacrifice the families have to make are all welcomed because we care about that Marine, we care about their success and we care about the success of the community.
Q: How do you balance being in the Marine Corps and your family life?
A: Balancing the Marine Corps and family life is very, very difficult. This takes being a good leader at home as well as at work and creating that team-like environment. My wife and children are very supportive because they know that I always have their best interest in mind. They know that I work hard at work and they also know and appreciate that I always make time for them. So it takes some detailed planning, some time management, and efficient work habits to make sure you accomplish your mission at work and have time for your family. You know, I think being able to balance the family and the Marine Corps is a contributing factor to being a good leader. I even find myself using the same techniques on the junior Marines as I do my kids.
Q: You just recently received the Navy and Marine Corps association Leadership Award, why do you think you were selected for this award?
A: I was selected for the Navy and Marine Corps Leadership award for not only my actions in which the citation was written, but it spoke to who I always am. It's about consistency; you can't decide when you want to be a good leader and when you don’t. You can’t set the example some days and not on others. It has to become who you are. I am very proud to receive this award [more importantly,] it shows Marines that your constant professionalism, hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed and those who do care will be recognized and rewarded. I would also like to mention that I would not have received this award if it wasn’t for the outstanding individuals that conducted the mission with me, they made my job easy.
Q: What do you hope your Marines take away from your leadership?
A: To be a constant professional, be the example to follow, be a better person in everything, everywhere, and every day of your life. Have a positive effect on the world around you. Last but not least, one day when you are a leader and in my position, remember; it's not about you anymore, it's about everybody else!