CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, JAPAN --
A United States Marine is said to be an individual with purpose, drive, and dedication. Someone who is willing to exceed limits and expectations with every challenge they face. What doesn’t come as a first thought is that a Marine may not always meet those expectations set before them and that they fail at times. These failures build the base of an individual though; if Marines can fail and overcome a challenge, they possess the ability to lead the next generation of Marines by providing mentorship through experience.
U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Daniel Best, company first sergeant of Headquarters Service Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Support Battalion, is the epitome of leading from failure. Best is a native of Liberty, Texas.
Best enlisted into the Marine Corps in August 2004. He joined for one of the many reasons Marines join: to travel the world. His first duty station was in Iwakuni, Japan, where he served as a supply administration and operations specialist. His desire to explore led him to discovering the Marine Security Guard program.
MSG duty provides Marines the opportunity to serve at different U.S. Embassies around the world each year, protecting American diplomats and diplomacy missions. In 2005, Best began the application process.
In October 2006 Best was accepted into the program as a corporal and reported to MSG school located in Quantico, Virginia. Ultimately, he was unable to complete training and was dropped from the program. He then received orders to 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
"He made my exponentially better. That’s what I realize a lot of Marines need, to be challenged." U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. David Wilson, the 1st Marine Division Sergeant Major
Towards the end of Best’s contract, he chose not to reenlist and finished his first enlistment at 2nd MLG. After getting out in August 2008 as a sergeant, he started a construction company with his father, however, due to economic setbacks of the Great Recession, the business did not perform as well as they initially hoped.
“People weren’t getting upgrades to their houses, they weren’t redoing their roofs, they weren’t redoing their porches, or other things like that,” said Best. “We didn’t go under; we just weren’t doing very well. I didn’t really see how long we could hold out, so my wife and I decided to come back [to the Marine Corps].”
After returning to the Marine Corps, Best was assigned to Inspector-Instructor Duty in San Jose, California.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. David Wilson, the 1st Marine Division Sergeant Major, served as Best’s first sergeant on I&I Duty and was a huge inspiration to Best.
“He was making me better every single day by challenging me and making me feel as if nothing I ever did was good enough,” said Best. “But he did that on purpose to push what I thought was acceptable. He made my exponentially better. That’s what I realize a lot of Marines need: to be challenged. Troop welfare to me means giving [Marines] a purpose every single day to come into work.”
Best said Wilson challenging him to do better every day has impacted how he leads Marines to this day.
Shortly after attaining the rank of staff sergeant, Best revisited the idea of joining the MSG program.
Best explained he was at the point in his career where it was time to do a special duty assignment. Best chose MSG duty for his SDA because he wanted to be able to balance family life with a duty assignment that also aligned with why he joined the Marine Corps in the first place.
Eight years after dropping out of the MSG program, Best reported for his second time in his career in 2015 to become a detachment commander. After successfully completing the school, he went on to serve at U.S. embassies located in Kigali, Rwanda, and Bogotá, Colombia. He was also selected for the highly competitive instructor position at MSG school. He was able to provide a unique perspective as an instructor at the school as someone who had once failed there as a student.
Best learned lessons and leadership skills while on MSG duty. One of those lesson is that it’s important to treat Marines like people and adults while still holding them accountable.
“There could be one lance corporal on post all night long in charge of millions of dollars' worth of equipment and the security of the U.S. Embassy,” said Best. “So, you realize that Marines are way more capable than sometimes we give them credit for.”
Throughout Best’s time on the MSG program, he’s received recognition for his leadership, hard work and dedication to others. These awards include: the 2017 Region 6 Detachment of the Year, the 2020 Region 4 Detachment of the Year, 10 Certificates of Appreciation, four Overseas Service Ribbons, two Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medals, 48 Letters of Appreciation, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, four Meritorious Honor Awards, and one Superior Honor Award.
Best recently earned a Master of Business Administration at American Military University. He is currently pursuing professional military education at the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy which focuses on management, leadership, national security and physical fitness. Best is also a Martial Arts Instructor Trainer for the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and holds a third-degree black belt. Additionally, he has published several articles for the Marine Corps Gazette and Leatherneck Magazine.
“You just have to trust that the decisions you make will work out in the end,” said Best. “All of these things that are considered failures have really benefited me and my career because they led me in the right direction.”