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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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Departing chief DI highly regards mentorship and welfare

By Lance Cpl. Jess Levens | | August 20, 2004

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Who takes care of the drill instructors?

Staff Sgt. Cortez L. Brown said that's his top priority.

Brown is one of Company K's chief drill instructors, and he makes sure his series' drill instructors are as well rested and stress-free as possible.

"I have always believed in taking care of my own," said Brown, a father of two. "Raising my girls has influenced the way I look at my position of leadership."

Brown said drill instructors can get very tired and stressed out, despite their Superman mentalities.

"Drill instructors aren't invincible," said Brown. "A tired drill instructor is useless to the company. When you're tired or stressed out, you aren't in the right frame of mind. If I see this, I say, 'Drill instructor, take a rest.' It is important that they are taken care of as much as possible. A well-rested, cared-for drill instructor will work for you. He'll train some recruits."

Brown said he learned this mentality from the Marine Corps, especially when the 34-year-old served in the first Gulf War.

"I didn't know my father," said Brown. "He was never there to take care of me, so I just had my mom. But then I came into the Marine Corps, and it taught me how to be a man. I was suddenly overseas in a dangerous area, but I knew every Marine with me would take care of me no matter what. I thrived on that."

Brown, then a corporal, loved life in the infantry, but his Marine Corps career took a strange turn when he returned to the United States in 1992. He wasn't allowed to reenlist because the military was downsizing.

Not sure what to do, the East St. Louis, Ill., native stayed in San Diego and worked a civilian job. He kept an active reserve status and was promoted to sergeant. In 1996, Brown came to a crossroads in his life and faced a choice.

"I could either go to a police academy, or I could come back in the Corps," said Brown. "After some serious thought, I decided the Corps was the best choice."

He wasn't able to rejoin the infantry, so Brown enlisted as an aircraft maintenance administrator. He was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., but because of his gap in active duty, Brown had to come back in as a lance corporal.

"It was weird coming to a new duty station as a lance corporal," said Brown. "I intimidated a lot of people. A lance corporal with a big stack of ribbons is something you don't usually see. I was able to get the rank I lost within the next year, so it wasn't too bad."

Brown said the Corps had looked out for him, and he wanted to give something back. So he came to Drill Instructor School here and was assigned to Co. K.

Nearly 10 training cycles later, Brown faces the end of his tenure on the drill field, and he has set a fine example to follow, according to his superiors.

"From the time he got to the company, Staff Sgt. Brown has transitioned into a leader with the character of sergeants major," said Capt. Jackson Doan, Co. K commanding officer. "He has taken on an attitude of mentorship and he takes the welfare of his Marines to heart. He exudes tough love and he treats his drill instructors in a manner they can learn."

After the drill field, Brown will return to Miramar. He said he will take the knowledge and experience he's gained as a drill instructor and apply it to help his junior Marines there.

"There are so many things I can take back to the fleet," said Brown. "There's sword manual, drill, counseling."

He will also push professional military education.

"PME, I'll be the king of PME," he said.

Brown said his time as a drill instructor has changed his life and molded him into the man he is today. The character he has shown to Co. K will linger for quite some time, according to company Marines.

"He always makes sure everyone is taken care of," said Capt. Daniel Maze, a Co. K series commander. "He sets Marines up for success, and he is a great supervisor. We're sorry to see him go."

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