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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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DIs Train Cadets at JROTC Leadership Development Academy

By Sgt Chanin Nuntavong | | April 09, 2001

FORT DIX, NJ -- "You have 10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ..."  Intense and repetitious phrases like this greeted Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadets the moment they arrived here April 3.  For the next four days, the cadets underwent continuous training that was all part of the First Marine Corps District's Leadership Development Academy.

Rappel masters, corpsmen and other Marines came from bases and posts around the United States in support of this year's CLDA, but the Marines who influenced the cadets most were the drill instructors.

"I think drill instructors are motivating," Cadet 1st Lt. Armenia Liranzo, Elizabeth High School, Elizabeth, N.J.  "They are here to train us on how to become leaders of the future."

Drill instructors from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., MCRD San Diego, Calif. and the Officer Candidate School, Quantico, Va. gave classes to cadets both outside and inside the classroom.  In the mornings and afternoons the cadets were taught drill.  During the evenings drill instructors gave Core Values classes.

"We try to teach self-respect and respect for others, discipline, teamwork and being accountable for your own actions," said Staff Sgt. Earnest S. Messick, Tactics Chief, Officer Candidate School, Quantico, Va. and Drill Instructor at the Cadet Leadership Development Academy.

Many cadets felt that classes helped improve camaraderie and relationships with their peers.

"I've learned how to work with other people and accept their personalities for who they are," said Cadet 1st Lt. Armenia Liranzo, Elizabeth High School, Elizabeth N.J.

The drill instructors emphasized teamwork, leadership and discipline through drill and mentorship.

"We try to become mentors to cadets - teachers vice disciplinarians.  Listening and talking to them is the most reliable way of teaching," said Gunnery Sgt. Vonda K. Jones, Testing and Evaluations Chief, Officer Candidate School, Quantico, Va. and Drill Instructor at the Cadet Leadership Development Academy.

Communication between teachers and students, backed with physical challenges, provided many opportunities for cadets to develop their leadership skills.

"Everybody has the ability to be a leader," said Jones.

According to Gunnery Sgt. John M. Thibodeau, Operations Chief, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. and Drill Instructor at the Cadet Leadership Development Academy, leadership is confidence, discipline and performance under pressure.

"We require cadets to learn a lot in a short period of time," he said.  "Drill instructors motivate cadets beyond their own expectations, while looking out for their welfare."

Sergeant Major George E. Henry, Rahway High School, Rahway, N.J., Senior Marine Instructor and Cadet Leadership Development Academy Camp Sergeant Major said the cadets learn the true meaning of the word "NOW!" at the CLDA.

"High school students do not understand the true meaning of urgency and mission accomplishment until they are encouraged to perform without delay," he said. "Drill instructors make sure they understand."

Drill instructors set the tone for the academy and played a key role in ensuring the academy's success According to Capt. James D. Utsler, First Marine Corps District MCJROTC Project Officer.

"Drill instructors are the most valuable part of the academy," he said.  "They make positive differences in the personal growth, leadership, citizenship and teamwork of the cadets.  Drill instructors are invaluable to the academy and provide an outstanding example to cadets of the professionalism and dedication of today's Marine Corps.  We hope to have their presence every year."

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