Photo Information

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Corwin, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-Station Lakewood, Recruiting Station Orange County, poses for a photo in Lakewood, California on Jan. 24, 2022. Corwin expressed what it means to be a staff non-commissioned officer in her experience. In the Marine Corps, SNCOs are considered the keepers of tradition and heritage, and they are the ranks that keep the lustrous history of the Marine Corps alive today.

Photo by Sgt. Sarah Ralph

Keepers of Tradition and Heritage

9 Feb 2022 | Sgt. Sarah Ralph The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

The Marine Corps has a lustrous history tracing all the way back to 1775. That equates to two hundred and forty-six years of history that Marines past, present and future will continue to keep alive. As many people know, with any new rank or promotion comes responsibility. For Marines, becoming a staff non-commissioned officer means transitioning to a more authoritative role. In addition to this new role, they are now seen as the keepers of tradition and heritage, which can mean something different to each individual stepping into those shoes.

“To me, the saying ‘keepers of tradition and heritage’ means keeping the spirit of the Marine Corps alive,” says Staff Sgt. Haile Donaldson, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-Station Fullerton, Recruiting Station Orange County. “Even if it’s something placed within a creed or standard, I believe every Marine should instill it regardless of rank.”

Becoming a staff sergeant is a big stepping stone in a Marine’s career, but it also comes with its own challenges.

“You’re responsible for a lot more, and your relationship with your superiors change as you progress,” explains Staff Sgt. Aaron Corwin, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-Station Lakewood, Recruiting Station Orange County. “You’re expected to lead by intent, not with direct instructions, which is vastly different from other ranks below staff sergeant.”

Recruiting duty is a special duty assignment within the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps encourages all enlisted careerists to do one special duty assignment throughout their careers. The primary difference recruiting has from the other duty assignments is that if successful on the first tour, Marines can choose to stay and become a recruiter as a primary occupational specialty.

“To me, the saying ‘keepers of tradition and heritage’ means keeping the spirit of the Marine Corps alive” Staff Sgt. Haile Donaldson, Recruiter

Within the recruiting environment, the aspects of your rank change significantly compared to what it would mean in the Fleet Marine Force. You no longer have junior Marines under your charge. The majority of Marines have the same billet and it is all based on individual effort.

“I feel like each Marine is on equal footing when it comes to recruiting,” explains Donaldson. “I do feel like I need to hold myself to a certain standard, but no matter where I go, I’ll still be a staff sergeant. When doing this job, I only pressure myself and I do not feel any pressure from my rank to prove myself against others.”

Regardless of the challenges that Marines face on recruiting duty, there is still some consistency that all Marines can rely on: leading and mentoring those placed in their charge.

The delayed entry program was put into place to assist future Marines in preparing for recruit training. These future Marines are presented information regarding our traditions and heritage, and are led by their recruiters.

“I try to emulate the great leaders I’ve had, and make that part of my leadership style,” says Corwin. “I implement that to future Marines in my charge and newly graduated Marines that come back on recruiting assistance.”

Recruiters are constantly finding the next generation of Marines and expressing the pride they have for the Marine Corps. Marines have es spirit de corps when it comes to their history, culture and the bond they share with the Marines around them. Staff non-commissioned officers continue to keep the Corps’ traditions alive, and pass those traditions onto their successors to keep our heritage strong.