MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, VA --
Quantico, Va. – On February 1, a crowd of Marines waited patiently as they prepared to take move from the enlisted ranks to being warrant officers. Among them were two Staff Sgts.’s from the Island State of Kosrae, Micronesia. According to U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jack Kun, Warrant Officer Steve J. Asher and Warrant Officer Jerry A. Tolenoa are believed to be the first United States Marine Warrant Officers from the Federated States of Micronesia.
Among the visitors witnessing the ceremony was the Federated States of Micronesia Ambassador to the United States, Akillino Harris Susaia. The First Secretary of the Federated
States of Micronesia, Raleigh Welly, knew the two Marines. Following Welly’s invitation, he extended the invitation to the ambassador.
“Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Ambassador Akillino H. Susaia accepted the invitation from Warrant Officer Tolenoa and Warrant Officer Asher, both former FSM citizens, to acknowledge their accomplishments as being the first Marine warrant officers in the history of the FSM,” Kun said.
As he watched the ceremony, the ambassador felt proud and fortunate to have experienced history in the making. These two Marines started a legacy and opened th e doors for future Marines from Micronesia to follow their example.
“It feels surreal,” said Warrant Officer Tolenoa, a Marine Corps Community Services officer with Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. “Being the first to ever do it for the people of Kosrae… I feel like since I am here, I need to do it the right way and do it to the best of my abilities.”
Tolenoa also had the support from one of the Marines who had the biggest impact on his career. U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jack Kun, an aviation supply officer, and believed to be the first commissioned officer from Kosrae.
“He went from a sergeant and now he’s an O-3 in the Marine Corps… for him to be able to do it I know I can too.” Said Tolenoa.
Asher, a utilities officer with 1st Combat Engineers Battalion, 1st Marine Division, shared this experience alongside Tolenoa. For Asher, the feeling was similar to Tolenoa as well as Kun. Asher explained that he felt like now he can have an influence on other Marines and create a stepping stone for others to follow.
“I’ve seen a lot of good Marines get out, and I feel like as a warrant officer I can maybe help them and influence them…” Asher said.
Asher’s main goal is to support the Marines and show others from the same or similar background that it is possible to reach their goal.
Ultimately, both Asher and Tolenoa are extremely proud to be able to represent their island and country alongside the ambassador of Micronesia. They wish to continue to influence, lead and do right by their Marines as the first warrant officers from Kosrae. They have built a legacy for others to follow and learn from their example.
“I want Marines, when they think about what I do, just to keep their minds open to all the opportunities that the Marine Corps can provide…,” Tolenoa stated. “There are a lot more ways to do what you like, do what you love and serve your country.”