EAD recruiter tears up the streets
By Sgt. Eric R. Lucero
| | August 01, 2005
ORANGEBURG, S.C. --
Recruiting duty has long been billed as an “independent duty” billet. A recruiter can often count on going an entire month and only see two or three other Marines. This is exactly why recruiters have always formed bonds within their respective recruiting sub-stations and often refer to themselves as “teams.”
They know that when the going gets tough, the Marines on their left or right are the only thing keeping them from hitting rock bottom. But what happens when you’re stationed at a permanent contact station and the only Marine assigned to that office is you? According to Sgt. Demond L. Johnson of PCS Orangeburg, S.C., you just put your head down and charge harder.
Johnson has just completed his sixth month on recruiting duty and although not one of his original goals, he says recruiting has been the most rewarding accomplishment during his time as a Marine.
“It’s definitely not where I saw myself when I enlisted,” he grinned, “and now that I’m here, I can’t see myself anywhere else.”
Johnson first hit the streets as part of the RSS Sumter team while serving as recruiter aide. After six months assisting canvassing recruiters in Sumter, Johnson decided sitting on the sidelines was not enough.
“To tell you the truth, I got tired of watching other Marines receive awards and gain recognition for their efforts,” he said. “I’m so competitive. I didn’t want to sit there and watch other Marines earn awards. I wanted to be recognized as the best.”
Johnson was promoted to sergeant in July of 2004 and submitted his package to become an Extended Active Duty recruiter the very next month. After graduating from Recruiter School, Johnson requested his previous duty station in RSS Sumter. He was granted his wish, with one small hitch. He was assigned to PCS Orangeburg within RSS Sumter. While this may not have been Johnson’s dream come true, he immediately saw it as an opportunity to turn around and area that had traditionally underachieved.
The opportunity to shine while turning PCS Orangeburg into a hotbed for Marine recruiting soon turned to a deep-rooted desire to simply, “help the kids out.”
“I found myself wanting to get these kids off the streets and give them an opportunity that other people may not see in them,” he said. “I wanted to do for them what my recruiter did for me.”
Oddly enough, Johnson’s recruiter is still assigned to RS Columbia. Gunnery Sgt. Nikita Wallace first enlisted Johnson while he was a canvassing recruiter in Sumter. Although Wallace had no impact on Johnson’s request to become a recruiter aide, he did offer a small bit of advise when it came to Johnson’s EAD package to become a canvassing recruiter.
“I think he saw how much it was bothering me to sit on the sidelines at the all-hands and watch other Marines awarded,” Johnson said. “I remember him walking past me after one awards presentation and whispering to me, ‘I know what you’re doing there in Sumter, you do what you got to do.’ He knew I was contemplating becoming a recruiter. I think that did it for me.”
Once graduated from Recruiter School, it didn’t take long for other members of RS Columbia’s command group to notice the potential in Johnson.
“I remember he was extremely quiet and looked confused during his training,” said Master Sgt. Clyde Wilson Jr., Johnson’s recruiter instructor. “It didn’t take long for me to realize he was just waiting for his opportunity to apply what we taught him.”
Since hitting the streets in Orangeburg, Johnson has excelled beyond even his own expectations. In his first six months of recruiting, he wrote 72% of RSS Sumter’s contracts. Johnson was recognized as RS Columbia’s Recruiter of the Month for December 2004. He also received two Meritorious Masts during this time. He has also been recognized by RS Columbia as a, “Heavy Hitter,” for writing five contracts during the month of March.
Through all of his early success and awards, Johnson is most proud of a small, out-of-place, wooden plaque that hangs on his awards wall in much the same manner as a small, three-legged mutt would at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
The plaque reads, “Presented To Sgt. Johnson. Thank you for your hard work and concern for me. Christopher Samuel Williams 2005.”
The plaque was given to Johnson by Christopher’s mother for all the hard work he did for her son. Oddly enough, however, Christopher never was granted enlistment into the Marines.
“There are some kids that just want this so bad,” said Johnson, “and it’s unfortunate for them when they come back unqualified. You look at them and know they would have been a great Marine.”
Christopher Williams took the ASVAB test three times and despite decent grades in high school, he was unable to pass the test. Christopher’s mother however, was most impressed the way Johnson refused to treat her son like just another contract.
“When she gave me the plaque, she just kept telling me she was so glad I treated her son like he was my brother,” said Johnson. “That’s what meant the most to me, because that was one of my goals as a recruiter. I wanted my kids to think of me like they belonged to my family. To me, that’s what the Marine Corps is all about.”
Johnson’s remaining goals are to be meritoriously promoted and become a SNCOIC in charge of RSS Sumter.
“He works the hours, gets the job done and there’s no reason he can’t be meritoriously promoted to staff sergeant at the rate he’s going,” said Wilson.
As far as Johnson’s concerned, that may not be enough.
“Can you be meritoriously promoted to gunny from a sergeant?” he asks while laughing.