MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
“Serving your country is a great endeavor, and serving Marines is a privilege,” said Lt. Col. Rex Sappenfield, the Assistant Chief of Staff
G-1, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
Sappenfield has undertaken that endeavor by serving in the Corps for 20 years, beginning as an enlisted infantryman and then as an administrative officer.
Sappenfield was a high school student in Los Alamos, N.M. when he came home from school one day to find a recruiter in the living room with his parents.
The visit had been arranged by Sappenfield’s father, Dale Sappenfield, a Marine who served as a communications officer in Japan during the 1950s.
“He had four boys, and always wanted at least one to be a Marine,” said Sappenfield.
Sappenfield’s three brothers did not join the Marine Corps and he was his father’s last chance.
“It was an easy day for that recruiter,” he said.
Sappenfield went to boot camp Sept. 12, 1986, beginning his Marine Corps career.
As an enlisted Marine, Sappenfield served as an infantry rifleman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“Infantry requires a lot of endurance and patience. It was a pretty challenging job, both physically and mentally,” according to Sappenfield.
As an infantryman, Sappenfield reached the rank of corporal and was a fire team leader. A fire team is usually a four man unit consisting of a rifleman, a machine gunner, an assistant machine gunner and the team leader.
“My experience as an enlisted Marine really prepared me for the challenges that lay ahead for me including my college education and future as an officer,” said Sappenfield.
It was during his time in the infantry that Sappenfield learned about his future alma mater.
“When I was a corporal with 1st Bn 8th Marines, one of my platoon commanders was a Citadel graduate,” said Sappenfield. “I respected him immensely and after he talked to me about the benefits of the institution, it was an easy choice.”
Following Sappenfield’s enlistment, he entered The Citadel, also known as The Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston, S.C. in the fall of 1990.
Sappenfield attended the school on the Veteran Day Program. In this program, prior service military members with honorable discharges attend classes with the regular student body, but are not members of the Corps of Cadets.
Sappenfield earned a bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis on English. He graduated and received his commission as a second lieutenant in May of 1994.
Sappenfield’s pursuit of education did not stop there as he earned a master’s degree in human resource development from Webster University when he was a lieutenant at his first duty station.
Though not a teacher, Sappenfield still uses his teaching degree.
“I am passionate about teaching and mentoring young people,” said Sappenfield.
Sappenfield has demonstrated this passion by coaching youth baseball for many years, as well as serving as a church youth director.
As a Marine, Sappenfield has spent hundreds of hours teaching in the classroom.
One of his favorite tours was spent as the adjutant and a faculty member of the The Basic School (TBS).
At TBS, newly commissioned or appointed officers are trained and educated in the high standards of professional knowledge, esprit-de-corps, and leadership required to prepare them for duty as company grade officers in the operating forces, with particular emphasis on the duties, responsibilities and war-fighting skills required of a rifle platoon commander.
Sappenfield taught subjects such as professional military writing, family and individual readiness, fitness reporting and other administrative topics.
According to Sappenfield, serving as an enlisted Marine gives him a better understanding of the Marines he serves with now.
“It gives me a perspective of what junior Marines go through and what their concerns are,” said Sappenfield.
Sappenfield has been around the world during his time spent in the Marine Corps.
He has been stationed in Charleston, S.C.; Camp Lejeune, N.C; Seoul, Republic of Korea; Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; Quantico, Va.; and recently returned from deployment with the Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Afghanistan.
Sappenfield recently reported for duty with MCRC as the assistant chief of staff G-1.
As the manpower officer, he is responsible for staffing, as well as, meeting the administrative requirements of the command.
Sappenfield believes that a good work ethic, but more importantly an attitude of service is the key to success in the administrative and manpower world.
“People are the key to our business, and treating everyone, Marine, Sailor or civilian, with respect and responding to their needs with urgency means everything to me,” he said.
“I like MCRC so far. It is very different from where I have served before and the mission is truly unique. There is also a great command climate here. It feels like a family,” said Sappenfield.
It is the enjoyment of his job and being a Marine that has kept Sappenfield charging forward for 20 years.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be a Marine Corps officer, to lead and serve fellow Marines.” said Sappenfield. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d make it as far as I have. Every day I get to put on this uniform is both a blessing and an honor.”