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U.S. Marines with the Staff Non Commissioned Officer Academy, Quantico, Va., participate in the director's motivational run in Washington, D.C., March 18, 2016. During the run, Marines visited and learned about landmarks such as the Captial Building, Washington and Lincoln Memorials, and the Marine Corps War Memorial. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Turner/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Timothy Turner

New Sergeant Major leads Marines through National Mall

28 Mar 2016 | Ida Irby Marine Corps Base Quantico

An unexpected outburst of applause from spectators walking through the National Mall greeted more than 160 Marines as they ran past the Lincoln Memorial to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial on March 18.

Marines enrolled at the Staff Non Commissioned Officer School at Marine Corps University participated in a four-mile run through the National Mall, which was filled with commuters on bikes, groups of small children and even a high school band performing at the base of the Lincoln Memorial. The motivational run gave everyone an opportunity to interact with each other and share in the unparalleled visit to our nation’s capital.

The morale run was led by Sgt. Maj. Garell Bass, director of Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy. Although no international students are currently enrolled, they fill a fraction of the ranks at the SNOA each year. This cycle includes Marines stationed in seven U.S. states and Stuttgart, Germany.

After 27 years of active duty service, Brass said he “wants his final job [before retirement] to be one where he can make a difference.”

“I know this is the right time at the right place for my career, because I can influence thousands of Marines through this academy,” he said.

During the year, senior leaders take time to share in motivational runs with a combined group of Marines. Students enrolled in the Career Course from February 11 and the Sergeants Course from March 3 are educated separately at Marine Corps University.

“I want the sergeants to interact with staff non commissioned officers to see first-hand how they should conduct themselves and pass on what right looks like,” said Bass. “Mostly, the run will provide a way for our students to learn from each other while strengthening their minds and bodies.”

The Marines visited many memorials and took time to take photos and honor their brothers and sisters in arms. During the run a select few Marines spoke to the group about unique features of each monument visited. This was an opportunity to provide key historical background details and reference the value it adds to the armed forces.

“This is a day most [Marines] will never forget,” said Brig. Gen. Helen G. Pratt, director of Marine Corps University, who stood beneath the Iwo Jima Memorial following the motivational run. While transitioning on foot from monument-to-monument, the group was reminded what the nation has endured at each decade. As they train at the SNCOA to support and protect our nation, they will “appreciate the sacrifices made” by their fellow service members before them.

“Marines should have an expectation that they are going to work very hard. They came [to the Academy] for a purpose and I urge them to stay focused on the mission,” he said.

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