CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan-Cpl. Chelsey Young, 20, from Westland, Mich., recites the Noncommissioned Officer’s Creed during a Corporals Course graduation ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, July 17. Young was named the honor graduate in her class of 30 students. She earned an average grade of 99, narrowly beating the runner-up by .75 points., Sgt. Brandon Owen,
By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Brofer, 1st Marine Logistics Group (FWD)
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Marines from 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) graduated a 3-week Corporals Course at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, July 17. As certificates were presented, the Marines lined up in rows waiting for their names to be called. At the front of the line was a small-framed female Marine; her name was called first.
Cpl. Chelsey Young, a combat engineer with Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st MLG (FWD), was named the honor graduate of her class of 30 students, consisting of Marines from CLB-5, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 9th Engineer Support Battalion and 1st MLG (FWD). For her achievement, she received a noncommissioned officer’s sword, which she proudly carried along with her graduation certificate.
It was an “unexpected” accomplishment, said Young after the ceremony. She earned the top score in the class – a 99 average – just .75 points higher than the runner-up, Cpl. Christopher Miller of G-3, 1st MLG (FWD).
Young said one of the most challenging aspects of the course was the grueling physical training, which included a 6-mile hike with full gear, running in the Afghanistan heat, physical fitness tests and field operations.
“At that moment when you’re the most tired,” she said, “you just have to tell yourself to keep going.”
Young, who scored a 300 on her physical fitness test, boasted she was able to shave off 48 seconds from her run time during the course – she now clocks in at 18 minutes, 32 seconds for the 3-mile run.
Although she was the tiniest Marine in the class – weighing in at 95 pounds – her motivation to succeed carried her through the challenging course. She also credits her chief instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Hairston, to helping keep her motivated.
“Gunny Hairston gave a lot of motivating speeches,” she said of the former drill instructor who now serves as the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, 1st MLG (FWD).
The course helped her realize “what type of leader I was,” said Young, 20, from Westland, Mich. One of the most important things she learned from the course, she said, is “always look out for your Marines.”
The ceremony ended with the Marines belting out the NCO Creed, their voices echoing off the mess hall walls. Despite her small size, Young stood tall among her peers as they bellowed in unison, “I will never forget that I am responsible to my commanding officer for the morale, discipline, and efficiency of my men. Their performance will reflect an image of me.”
Mary Ann Merritt
WMA National PRO