During my time in the Marine Corps, both my superiors and subordinates knew me as “a walking encyclopedia” who knew how to spell every word and the answers to the societal problems that ailed us. You could hear me in my unit spouting knowledge of the place of governments in our lives as military members such as what rights we had and had not, what was legal and what was not. I held this type of knowledge in my leadership style as a mentor who helped my Marines realize their truest potential as individuals as a part of a team. For, if your Marines do not know themselves and seek self improvement, how are you supposed to know them and look out for their welfare?

I had a place behind a generator wall where we could smoke cigarettes (by that I mean I, mostly), and discuss the personal problems they had that were affecting their ability to complete their jobs in the most efficient manner possible. This was not out of obligation, but out of love. I saw all of my Marines (to include my superiors [which got me in trouble sometimes]{ok, all the time}]) as sovereign individuals who needed someone to listen to them and give them the advice I could because there weren’t very many Marines at the time that would do this for them. Expressing your feelings and emotions both inside and outside of work was (and still is) something that Marines “just didn’t do” because we were supposed to “suck it up” and move on. This way of thinking hindered the ability of Marines who had problems to overcome them, something that I had set out to abolish while I could. I used the method of integrating the leadership skills of honesty, responsibility, humility, and love. Honesty in one’s emotions and thoughts, taking responsibility over those two things, the humility to share them with one another, and the love to help them overcome or encourage them.

The thing in the back of my mind when I left the Marine Corps was leaving my Marines “behind.” I felt as though the responsibility of that kind of leadership laid solely on my shoulders (which happens to be the way every good NCO feels as they exit). So, in order to overcome that guilt, I created this blog.

When I was assigned essays in college, I wrote them with my Marines in mind because I knew that I was going to share not only my knowledge, but my writing with them. I thought of it as a “Cpl Kerkman Reference Guide” that they could turn to when they wanted that worldly advice I could offer them. Uh, they also love my weirdness which I tried to shine through my poetry (Fuckin’ Nutz for Winter) and my paintings in my barracks room (Just A Dream). I wanted them to see all of it because whenever I’m having a hard time or a bad day, I think of the times I spent with my Marines, and I wanted them to think of me too…. And I know that they do because once you’ve spent enough time with us motherfuckers, you become connected in a special way that is not afforded to anyone who hadn’t spent that time together. That connectedness is what gets me through the day because they are my best friends.

Semper Svet, 34th!


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  1. Pingback: Just a Reminder….. | Cpl Kerkman Reference Guide

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