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"Crossroads of the Marine Corps"

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Civilian Marines Learn the Ins and Outs of the Serving the Corps

By Adele Uphaus-Conner | Marine Corps Base Quantico | October 12, 2016


“Think about the recruiting commercials for the Marine Corps that you’ve seen,” Nate Taylor, civilian leadership development program administrator for Headquarters Marine Corps, asked civilians attending the Marine Corps Acculturation Program (MCAP) aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico Sept. 21-22. “Do they ever show a Marine sitting behind a desk? No, it’s always Marines in battle, right?

“You can’t come into the Marine Corps and not think that you’re going to be a warfighter,” he continued. “That’s the mindset of the Marines you are supporting.”

The two-day MCAP, which was introduced in December of 2007, is meant to educate civilian employees on the history, culture, and organizational structure of the Marine Corps. The hope is that attending the course will leave civilians feeling part of the team and understanding what it means to work for the Corps.

“The MCAP provides our civilian Marines with information that is vital to their integration into the Marine Corps Team,” said Jamie Deets, civilian manpower management analyst for MCBQ. “The education they receive makes them more confident team members when they interact with their uniformed counterparts. The Total Force Structure is key to the success of the Marine Corps’ mission.”

The program, which is offered aboard MCBQ monthly, includes modules on USMC history, culture, and organizational structure, as well as the role of civilian Marines and opportunities available for their professional development.

Deets provided attendees with an introduction to Marine Corps history on the first day of the program.

“We as an organization are very proud of our organization,” he said. “Soldiers are proud of the specific jobs they do within the Army. But as Marines, we focus on the Marine Corps as a whole.”

Being proud of the Corps starts with being proud of its history, and Deets highlighted several of the historic events that have become Marine Corps lore. These include the Marine Corps’ birth at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia on Nov. 10, 1775, when recruits who signed up to be the first Continental Marines received a pint of grog in return for their service; the bloody battle at Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War in 1847, which resulted in the loss of 90 percent of the non-commissioned officers and is commemorated by the red “blood stripe” on the trousers of the NCO dress blue uniform; and Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly yelling, “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” to encourage his Marines to charge the Germans during the World War I battle of Belleau Wood.

On the second day, Taylor facilitated a module on USMC culture, which examined the Marine Corps’ traditions, symbols, customs, courtesies and rank structure. For example, the civilians learned what they should do when morning colors are raised (stand and face the flag or, if driving, stop their cars); how they should address a gunnery sergeant (“gunny” or “gunnery sergeant,” but never just “sergeant,” which would be acceptable in the Army); and the meaning of jargon like “Field Day” (barracks or office clean-up), “cover” (Marine Corps hat), and “grunt” (a Marine infantryman).

A third module discussed the organizational structure of the Marine Corps: how it fits within the Department of Defense, how it is divided into divisions, air wings, and logistic groups, and what the four elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force are.

At the end of the program, the employees received their official “civilian Marine” pins.

“The Marine Corps is a family,” Taylor said. “We protect each other. The Marines in your office may pick on you as a civilian but if anyone from outside tries to pick on you, they’ll be there to protect you.”

The next available acculturation classes are October 26-27, January 17-18 and February 22-23. For complete details and to register,  contact Jamie Deets, Civilian Manpower at 703-784-3101 or jamie.deets@usmc.mil.

Writer: auphausconner@quanticosentryonline.com

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