NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Gunnery Sgt. Tawanda Hanible, diversity operations chief, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, received the Major Megan McClung Leadership Award during the Sea Service Leadership Association’s Joint Leadership Awards Luncheon at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center here, June 6.
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.
“It was very humbling to be recommended for and chosen to receive this award,” said Hanible. “I’ve always tried to take care of junior Marines and others who need help by being a mentor to them and sharing the things I’ve learned in the Marine Corps.”
In addition to her own work, Hanible credits Sgt. Maj. Robin Fortner, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., as being a mentor for her and someone she looks up to.
According to Maj. Frank Moore, diversity officer, MCRC, the leadership qualities displayed by Hanible make her a worthy recipient of the award and inspired him to submit a recommendation on her behalf.
“Gunnery Sgt. Hanible has a genuine passion for helping people – both Marines and civilians,” said Moore. “She tries to better other individuals’ situations in any way she can. There are countless junior Marines who come to her for help. She always takes the time to mentor and provide guidance to them. Off duty, she reaches out to individuals who at some point have been forgotten and helps them see their own self-worth through her organization, Operation Heroes Connect.”
Founded by Hanible in 2011, Operation Heroes Connect is a nonprofit organization that partners volunteer service members and veterans with at risk youth in order to help them reach their full potential and to make positive choices in their lives.
Despite her numerous qualifications, Hanible was still caught off guard by winning the Maj. Megan McClung Leadership Award.
“I was very surprised when I found out I won,” said Hanible. “It’s a big ticket award so I was not expecting it at all.” According to Moore though, her victory is exactly what he expected.
“I wasn’t surprised at all that she won,” he said. “And in true Gunny Hanible fashion, she was extremely humbled. She told me during the ceremony, ‘Sir, I love to help people but I love to stay behind the scenes.’”