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U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Ostermann, Prior Service Recruiting statistician chief, Marine Corps Recruiting Command and a native of El Cajon, Ca., adds to his to-do list in his office on Marine Corps Base Quantico Feb. 2, 2024. Ostermann’s responsibilities include overseeing statistical research and analysis for PSR, ensuring data accuracy and interpreting complex data for decision-making. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brenna Ritchie)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brenna Ritchie

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome: Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Ostermann Became the Change

23 Feb 2024 | Lance Cpl. Brenna Ritchie Marine Corps Recruiting Command

“I’ve had a lot of failures in my life, more so than my successes,” Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Ostermann jokes. “In high school, I let those get to me. The Marine Corps taught me that when I hit a wall, I find a ladder.”

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Joshua Ostermann, Prior Service Recruiting statistician chief, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, is a native of El Cajon, California, and has served in the Marine Corps for 17 years.

Ostermann was homeschooled up until high school, describing himself as a sheltered kid and as having a small friend group with whom he stuck religiously.

“I went from daily life where my only and best friend in ‘school’ was my one brother in the house to being made fun of at my actual high school,” said Ostermann. “It was definitely a culture shock, a very humbling experience.”

In 2006 after graduating high school, Ostermann enlisted in the Marine Corps. Ostermann remembered being told stories of the Corps and looking up to his dad, who had been a Marine.

“Before the Marine Corps, it was harder to talk to people outside my comfort zone,” Ostermann recalled. “The Marine Corps forced me to have to build those kinds of communication skills.”

Looking back into his 17 years of service, Ostermann recognizes the changes from him in high school to where he is now. Struggling and overcoming adversity has been something that Ostermann has done recurrently throughout his career to such a degree that one of his mottos is ‘be the change.’

“Don’t get down on yourself; instead, reflect and say, ‘Tomorrow, I’m going to punch it even better. I’m going keep trying,’” said Ostermann. “I want to be the change in other people’s lives and my own. Being that change that you aspire to be, that has always been the biggest struggle of my career.”

Ostermann reflected on the past leaders who impacted him most as a junior Marine. Gunnery Sgt. Corey Johnson was his staff noncommissioned officer and administrative chief at Marine Aviation Support Training Group 42 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Johnson is a Marine who instilled the mindset of constant betterment into Ostermann.

“‘Be the change’ is probably the best way to embody what makes Gunnery Sgt. Ostermann a great Marine,” said Johnson. “A lot of Marines complain about how things could be better, Ostermann always fought to make that happen.”
According to Johnson, Ostermann was an integral part in making their junior Marines feel like they were part of the unit on a daily basis instead of only on weekends they had drills. Ostermann was also the one Marine that had everyone else’s phone number, so he checked in on them during non-drill weekends.

“One of the things that I can say I passed on to Ostermann when he was my sergeant was ‘your strength lies in your willingness to fight,’” Johnson shared. “Fight for the right thing even when no one is looking. Sgt. Ostermann usually just needed a word or two to set him in motion. It takes courage to do the right thing and Sgt. Ostermann is a Marine who I can count on to do the right thing, no matter the risk.”

Johnson pushed Ostermann to pursue higher education and other methods of personal development. He also showed Ostermann how to deal with internal strife and still accomplish the mission, which Ostermann said he’ll never forget.

“If you fail, but you continuously try, I have nothing but respect for you,” Ostermann expressed. “Because at least you keep trying. I strive to tell people to accept their failures and use them to move forward. The moment you stop trying is the moment you truly fail.”

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