MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Since the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775, the United States’ expeditionary force in readiness has fulfilled three broad missions for the American people; making Marines; winning battles; and returning quality citizens back to their communities. Drawing upon their time and experiences in the Corps, many Marines have found as much and more success in the civilian world after taking off the uniform.
Following his retirement on Dec. 14, 2012, Lt. Col. Ronald J. Peterson, assistant chief of staff for advertising, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, joined the ranks of those quality citizens who continue to make a difference.
After serving in the Navy as an enlisted sailor, Peterson, a Montgomery, Ala. native and Prairie View A&M University graduate, fulfilled a lifelong dream by commissioning as a Marine officer in December, 1992.
“As far as I can remember I always desired to serve in the Marine Corps,” said Peterson. “It was a dream since I was a kid. I was born with it.”
Through hard work and dedication, Peterson, a ground logistician, achieved his dream. Over the course of his career, Peterson served across the globe in units such as MTAC-38 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Calif., 1st
FSSG at Camp Pendleton, Calif., III MEF in Okinawa, Japan, Recruiting Station Montgomery, Ala. and as the Marine officer instructor for the Atlanta area, to name a few. Peterson, a combat veteran, also deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and participated in the first battle of Fallujah.
Most recently, as the assistant chief of staff for advertising at MCRC, Peterson was responsible for the Marine Corps’ robust advertising efforts, managing the day to day operations of the $100 million program.
“It’s the job of advertising to support the overall recruiting mission,” said Peterson. “Our mission is to build and maintain brand awareness and attract quality young men and women to become Marines.”
During his time in advertising, Peterson supervised the release of the Marine Corps’ “Toward the Sounds of Chaos” campaign, oversaw the redesign of Marines.com and organized two Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl football games, to name a few accomplishments.
According to Peterson, if someone had told him years ago he would be responsible for maintaining the Marine Corps brand he would not have believed it.
“I was always drawn to the Marine Corps brand when I was young,” said Peterson. “To have been the guy in charge of the brand is unbelievable.”
As one phase of Peterson’s career draws to a close, the next is just beginning. After a meticulous two year vetting process, Peterson was recently selected to become an owner-operator of his own Chik-Fil-A restaurant in Portsmouth, Va.
“The vetting process is very arduous and detailed,” said Peterson. “They want to get to know you and the kind of person you are. They want to see how you fit in with the organization. They need to be certain that you are the type of person they want to establish a long business relationship with.”
To Peterson, there are many similarities between Chik-Fil-A and the Marine Corps that helped him make the decision to own a franchise.
“I see the Marine Corps and Chik-Fil-A as having a shared value system,” said Peterson. “I see things like honor, courage and commitment, which are important to the Marine Corps, woven into the fabric of their model. I’m moving from one values based organization to another.”
While the business world is gaining a tremendous talent, according to Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commanding general, MCRC, the Marine Corps is losing one.
“It’s bittersweet to see Lt. Col. Peterson go,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commanding general, MCRC, during Peterson’s retirement ceremony. “It’s bitter from the Marine Corps’ perspective because we’re saying goodbye to truly one of our most talented officers. It’s sweet because he’s doing it for all the right reasons. He’s moving his family and himself forward and like we always talk about, we’re returning a quality citizen back to the community.”
According to Peterson, his time in the Corps has prepared him for the challenges ahead as he makes the transition from leading Marines to leading civilians.
“I’ve learned so much during my time in the Marine Corps,” said Peterson. “I’ve learned how to relate to and build synergy with diverse groups of people, time and crisis management skills and how to be part of a team working toward a common goal.”
Whether a Marine plans on serving for four years or 40, Peterson has three bits of advice to have an enjoyable and rewarding experience in the Marine Corps.
“First, you need to be a Marine and embrace what it means to be a Marine,” said Peterson. “You need to learn from and share what you’ve learned with all the people you meet, and finally, you need to have fun.”