MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Known by her strong New York accent, compassion and genuine smile, Col. Robin Gallant commands the largest battalion in the United States Marine Corps. It all started for her more than three decades ago.
Answering a phone call not intended for the Long Island native began the now 35-year military career that has led the mustang through many experiences.
“I have a brother who is about a year younger than me, and [the recruiters] called up wanting him,” said Gallant. She continued with a sly smile, “I kind of messed with them a little bit. I said, ‘What do you want my brother for? Why wouldn’t you want me?’”
“They said, ‘Well, you’re a girl,’” said Gallant. “So I said, ‘Girls can’t join the Marine Corps?’ I told them I would come and see them, but I really had no intention of doing so.”
By pure coincidence, she met the same recruiter she had talked to on the phone while running an errand and, before you know it, she was on her way to basic training.
“I enlisted on Feb. 14, 1979, and joined the reserves initially,” said Gallant. “It was between my freshman and sophomore year of college that I went to boot camp.”
Gallant successfully juggled both the academic and military chapters of her life, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in business finance from Molloy College in December 1986, and serving in several different military occupational specialties until she transitioned as a sergeant to the Officer Candidates School.
“I was the communicator, [radio operator] and then administrator, and then I did the budgets,” said Gallant. “I did the reserves for a little bit. I did a couple of extended active duties and then I did active reserve before I went officer.”
But receiving her commission didn’t stop her eagerness for excellence. Gallant attended the Amphibious Warfare School; the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, where she earned a Master’s in military studies; and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces earning a Master of Science in national resource strategy.
The wife of 24 years and mother of two has also served in numerous commands including Marine Forces Atlantic, Headquarters Marine Corps and Central Command.
“[Considering the highlights of her career] My most favorite is this job here [at Headquarters and Service Battalion],” said Gallant. “I’ve been here for seven months and it seems like just yesterday I came on board. I’ve got 3,400 Marines here and what’s better than that?”
Those who work with her welcome her distinct style and agree that she has brought great leadership to the battalion.
“Col. Gallant’s leadership style is very energetic and very personal, always trying to take care of the Marines,” said Master Sgt. Arthur Robinson, administrative chief, H&S Bn. “She actually cares about the Marines. She cares about their careers and about their lives.”
Maj. Shanelle Porter, H&S Bn. adjutant, paralleled Robinson’s thoughts concerning the commanding officer’s passionate leadership.
“Col. Gallant is a very compassionate leader,” said Porter. “She is always thinking about the Marines, always. She always has their best interests at heart.”
Robinson also gave a word of encouragement to the thousands of Marines in Gallant’s charge.
“They really need to be impressed with that they have,” said Robinson. “Not too many commanding officers are like this. She is an awesome colonel.”
Gallant, a Thai food enthusiast, is passionate about weight lifting and pull-ups in her spare time, and is thrilled to be in a command where she has the opportunity to be around not only high-ranking officers, but junior enlisted Marines and noncommissioned officers as well.
She has a message for her Marines.
“I’m here for them,” said Gallant. “I have complete faith and confidence in every one of them. I do my best to support them and I hope they feel that.”