ABOARD USS BONHOMME RICHARD -- Before enjoying a well-deserved liberty port in Singapore, 29 corporals from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit graduated from Corporal’s Course May 9 on the Bonhomme Richard.
The Marines underwent 18 days of rigorous physical and leadership training, along with skills training especially useful while deployed.
“We decided to tailor the training in the course to make it more beneficial to the Marines in deployed status,” said Gunnery Sgt. Patrick Reyes, command element frequency manager and headquarters company gunnery sergeant. “The addition of combat lifesavers training to the course is something the Marines would not have received if back on (stateside duty stations).”
Reyes also said that another unique facet to the course on ship was the Marines who were instructors.
“Normally in a Corporal’s Course there are sergeants teaching, but here on ship we had 16 instructors from all commands and none of them were below the rank of staff sergeant,” said Reyes. “Even (13th MEU sergeant major) Sgt. Maj. Hines gave the Marines leadership classes, which is something that would usually not happen in any other setting.”
Since there are a lot of fresh non-commissioned officers on ship, the Marines who took the course understood how fortunate they were to receive the training.
“I was very happy to have the opportunity to take part in the course,” said Cpl. Shawn Levesque, satellite operator with the command element’s communications section. “It’s a good thing for all Marines to receive leadership training whenever possible, but especially after becoming an NCO.”
Being on ship gave the Marines the opportunity for a unique course experience. It also made getting everything together a bit more difficult.
“Space is always an issue on ship, but we managed to get the Marines where they needed to be for training,” said Reyes. “There were other things that took priority because we are currently deployed. Fortunately, it all worked out fine.”
Like a proud father, Reyes said that he enjoys seeing the growth of Marines, especially as leaders.
The Marines in the course also took notice of their personal growth.
“In a few weeks you realize that the course isn’t just about learning sword manual, it’s about developing the leadership attributes that will ultimately benefit the Marine Corps in the long run,” said Levesque.
If circumstances allow it, Reyes said that he would love to have another course going when the MEU is returning from operations in the Middle East.