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4th Marine Corps District

Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Major Megan McClung Leadership Award presented to former Parris Island drill instructor

By Cpl. Aaron Diamant | | June 19, 2014


More than 1,500 military women gathered at the only event in the United States dedicated to providing service women with professional development through networking, education, and mentorship from all five Armed Services during the Sea Service Leadership Association’s annual Joint Leadership Symposium in Norfolk, Va. June 12.

During the symposium, Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds, the commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. and the Eastern Recruiting Region, presented Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Melissa Johnson with the Major Megan McClung Leadership Award.

“I am really humbled that someone saw that level of leadership in me, and then took the time to put me in for the award,” said Johnson. “It really means a lot to me, and I’m very appreciative.”

Johnson currently serves as the operations chief for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort’s Headquarters and Service Squadron. Previously, she served with P Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, where she served as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor and chief drill instructor until May 2014. Her actions there led to her selection to be the 2014 recipient of the Major Megan McClung Leadership Award.   

On Dec. 6, 2006, Maj. Megan McClung, a public affairs officer serving with I Marine Expeditionary Force, became the first female Marine officer to be killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. McClung was also the first female graduate of the United States Naval Academy to be killed in action. The award recognizes Marines who display inspiration, innovative and imaginative leadership both on and off-duty. Nominees must also show exceptional leadership ability and persevere to overcome challenges while serving.

“Service to others is the touchstone of our citizenship,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the awards luncheon. “The citizens of this nation are forever in your debt.”McAuliffe also took the opportunity to voice his support for the expansion of veterans support and benefits for female veterans. “Female veterans are the fastest growing segment of veterans in this nation,” he said. “Women currently comprise seventeen percent of our military.”

In Virginia, nearly one in 10 residents is a military veteran, the highest per capita rate in the nation.

This training symposium has become a preeminent training event for women serving in the Department of Defense and Coast Guard, including civilians, officers, enlisted and cadets.