'Teamwork is key to making good Marines'
By Lance Cpl. Ethan E. Rocke
| | August 30, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Their eyes are fixed on him. They listen intently as he explains specific instructions. The looks in their eyes are looks of trust and interest. They know that this drill instructor cares about their training and their performance and because he cares, they care.
"I believe he cares a lot about the platoon," said Pfc. Benjamin R. Ritenour, Platoon 3093, Company I. "He always wants us to perform well, and it shows."
This is the influence that Staff Sgt. Chad O. James, drill instructor, Platoon 3093, Co. I, has on his recruits. It may not sound much different from the influence of most drill instructors, but James said he is proud to know that he spends every day making Marines and making them the right way.
"The most memorable experience I will take from the drill field is just making the best possible Marines I can," said James.
James' desire to make good Marines is what motivated him to become a drill instructor. He wanted the opportunity to train the best in the world, and he has been doing just that since May 2001, said the 27-year-old.
James said he believes the Marines Corps is the best fighting force in the world. That belief and the desire to serve his country motivated him to leave his small hometown of St. Martinville, La., in November 1992, to become a Marine.
James entered the Marine Corps as a motor transport operator, and his first duty station was Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Later he served in the Marine Corps security forces in Yokosuka, Japan. He then returned to the United States, serving at Cherry Point, N.C., as a motor transport instructor.
From Cherry Point, James went to Drill Instructor School at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.
James has recently added some highlights to his list of personal achievements as a drill instructor. He was selected as the Regimental Drill Instructor of the Quarter after winning a battalion board and later a regimental board.
On top of this most recent achievement, last cycle, James' platoon, Platoon 3058, earned honor platoon recognition, an achievement he said he attributes to a lot of hard work, not only his own but the work of all the drill instructors from 3058.
"Being the 'J' of a platoon, you feel like you've played a big part when your platoon is named honor platoon, but really it's all about the team," said the 5-foot-nine-inch man.
"Having an honor platoon let's you know you've done a great job. It's a real good feeling for the team," he said.
James always emphasizes the importance of teamwork. He said it was a strong collective effort among the drill instructors from 3058 that made an honor platoon. James' humility is not fully supported by his former boss.
"Before we picked up, he (James) said he was going to get me an honor platoon, and we got it," said Staff Sgt. David C. Danel, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3094, Co. I, and former senior drill instructor for Platoon 3058.
"I felt he was mostly responsible for the honor platoon."
James believes his success on the drill field reflects the training and mentoring offered to him throughout his career by several individuals. At the same time, some of his fellow drill instructors have taken notice of what type of a leader and Marine he strives to be.
"He is one of the most professional and mature individuals I've met down here," said Danel. "He sets the standard for staff noncommissioned officers."
Another career highlight for James was when he earned his associate's degree in arts. He said he was very proud to take advantage of higher education opportunities and accomplish one of his goals outside the military.
He is not the only person in his family who contributes to his mission as a drill instructor. His wife of six years, Orie James, takes care of their two young sons, Miles and Xavier, while he is at work, and she always supports him 100 percent, he said.
"He's real big on family," said Danel.
"It's seems like when he finally goes home at the end of the day they're his number-one priority," he said.
James said along with spending time with his family, he enjoys fishing, weightlifting, and sports.
James' philosophy as a drill instructor is a simple one, but that philosophy was developed gradually through experience and mentoring from the drill instructors he has worked with, he said.
"My philosophy is train them hard, and train them tough, but be smart while you're training them," said the Marine.
James' smart and tough philosophy has made for many long days at work, but he said no matter how tired or worn out he gets, he will never fall short of completing the mission whatever it may be.
"As a drill instructor, I know every day is a challenge," he said. "You've got to just keep moving and driving on. You can never fail your recruits, the Marine Corps, or yourself."
James still has a few cycles to go before he leaves the drill field. He said he will always remember the important lessons he has learned from being a drill instructor, and he won't forget the hundreds of Marines he helped make.
"Seeing your new Marines walk across that parade deck on graduation day, knowing that a part of you is going to stay with that Marine for the rest of his life is the best part of making Marines," James said.