By Sgt Amanda Hay
| | March 01, 2001
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. --
Eleven years ago, John Hannum Jr. sat in the Atlantic City, N.J. recruiting office and listened to a sales presentation by local Marine recruiter Sgt. Kevin Malone.
Today, Hannum works out of the same office as the NCOIC for RSS Atlantic City. Hannum was also recently promoted to his current rank of gunnery sergeant by Malone, now a master sergeant and recruiter-instructor for RS New Jersey.
As his mentor and 11-year friend pinned his stripes on his collar, Hannum recalled his first encounter with Malone.
"He scared me," said Hannum, who was a senior at Egg Harbor Township High School, Egg Harbor Township, N.J. at the time he first met Malone. "He was overbearing. I used to say, 'I wouldn't mess with that guy.' He was big and he emulated everything he spoke of."
Hannum, whose father was in the Air Force, saw the military as a unique opportunity and a way to pay for college. Originally looking for an opportunity in the Air Force, Hannum's mind was quickly changed when he met Malone.
"The Marine Corps was a step above the rest," said Hannum. "Everything the Corps stands for was demonstrated by the confidence he [Malone] had when he talked, the way his uniform was creased, and the way his office was kept. It showed me an organization of people with discipline and pride, which is what I wanted to be a part of."
Hannum enlisted as an infantryman and went into Security Forces. Meritoriously promoted to sergeant in his first three years, he decided to make the Marine Corps his career. Whenever home on leave, Hannum would stop by and visit Malone, who became a career recruiter, in his Atlantic City office. In March 1996, Hannum reported to RS New Jersey for recruiting duty. According to Malone, Hannum has been a positive example to other recruiters and poolees.
"He sets a good example," said Malone. "He's a self-made man. He's very critical of himself, and that attributes to his success."
In February 1999, Hannum became NCOIC of RSS Northwest. A year later, he found himself back where it all started from at RSS Atlantic City, but this time as the NCOIC.
According to Malone, he's done an excellent job so far.
"He's taken two substandard RSSs as an NCOIC and brought them up to par," praised Malone. "He's a self-starter, committed to mission and making his Marines successful."
In addition, Malone believes Hannum's background has provided him with what it takes to be a successful leader.
"Coming from a combat arms job, he has a take-the-hill mentality and it rubs off on his Marines."
For Hannum, though, experience and motivation alone aren't enough to credit his success. He says his relationship with Malone has enabled him to pull through some of the tough times that come along with being a recruiter.
"He just puts things into perspective for me," said Hannum. "Sometimes things go about 200 miles an hour around here and you need an opinion from an outside."
According to Hannum, his ability to turn to Malone is based on a level of trust that was established eleven years ago, when they first met.
"He's always been straight with me," said Hannum. "There's never been a hidden agenda. He tells me the truth whether or not that's what I want to hear."
With a strong relationship that has lasted for so long, it was no surprise when Hannum asked Malone to pin on his recently earned gunnery sergeant stripes at an RSS Atlantic City poolee family night.
"He's been a father-figure to me, so I wanted him to promote me," said Hannum. "But I looked at my poolees who were there that night and thought, 'imagine promoting one of them gunny?' It's weird."