By Sharon Tutt
My family background has military roots that span as far back as World War I. My maternal grandfather, L. W. Knox, served in the Army in France for three years. Three of his sons joined the military during World War II; Uncle Curtis served in the Army and was stationed in the Pacific, Uncle John also served in the Army in World War II and was stateside. Uncle Thomas served in the U.S. Navy and his unit had assignments in Normandy, France.
My paternal roots which are from the Lincolnton, Augusta, Georgia area run deep in the military. Uncle David Tutt, Jr. retired from the U.S. Army as a Command Sergeant Major. Uncle Bobby Tutt retired from the U.S. Army as a Sergeant First Class, and Aunt Lillie retired from the U.S. Army from the Nurses Corps in Columbus, Georgia.
I was in the Army ROTC in high school and participated on the Palmetto High School’s Army ROTC Drill Team. I chose to go into the United States Marine Corps.
One important life skill that I remember from my experiences is adaptability as shown in the various photographs that I was able to capture from many of my Marine Corps activities. So I thought ROTC would prepare me for what was in store at Parris Island, SC. My boot camp commenced on 2 August 1980 in the Women Recruit Training Battalion in Platoon 14B. Some of the people I remember was Captain A. M. Summerlin was the Company Commander, First Lieutenant A. Salinas was the Series Officer, Master Sergeant P. Hurlbet was the Chief Drill Instructor and Gunnery Sergeant Kornegay was the Series Gunnery Sergeant who made sure that the 100 new recruits in Platoons 14A and 14B received their esteemed Eagle, Globe and Anchor on 29 September 1980. I remember flashbacks of sand fleas, the parade deck and the gentle command voices of Staff Sergeant S. M. Spray, Senior Drill Instructor; Sergeant J. Murray, Assistant Drill Instructor; Sergeant J. R. Goo, Assistant Drill Instructor and Corporal A. L. Smith. We learned the importance of the Commanding Officers’ Inspection, Elliott’s Beach Hike and the drill competition (which our platoon won) would be the building blocks during my Marine Corps experience.
I stayed at Parris Island, South Carolina for another two months after graduation to attend the Basic Clerical Course and the Personnel Clerks Course at the Personnel Administration School on Parris Island, South Carolina.
After graduating from school, I was assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps at Henderson Hall located in Arlington, Virginia. I worked in Headquarters and Service Company’s front office on base performing several administrative functions. Some of those duties were mentioned in the March 26, 1982 issue of Henderson Hall News.
The office I worked in had acquired the best of the best who “prided themselves in taking care of their own” with the tools of our trade — compliance manuals, case reports and electric typewriters. The issue described how our office functioned with each other. I made sure all Marines orders were properly endorsed and all Marines detached on time.
I was also featured in the July 23, 1982 issue of the Henderson Hall News for being named HQBN Marine of the Month for June 1982 and was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant in August 1982. Also to prepare me for this rank, I attended Non Commissioned Officer’s Leadership School at Quantico, Virginia. Being stationed at Henderson Hall also exposed me to many activities where I was fortunate enough to participate in the Presidential Inauguration (President Carter to President Reagan), the Commandant of the Marine Corps Change of Command ceremonies (General Barrows to General Kelley) and the Special Olympics . I also got to see several Evening Parades at 8th and because of my love for the Marine’s Silent Drill Team precision and also the Sunset Parade held at the Iwo Jima Memorial (which was one of my daily running routes that started at Henderson Hall then went through Arlington National Cemetery and around Iwo Jima as I headed home through Fort Myers Army Base back gate to Henderson Hall’s side gate). I was also active on the softball and basketball teams and travelled during both seasons to many Army, Air Force and Marine Corps bases.
When my tour of duty was up at Henderson Hall, I reenlisted and I was transferred to Headquarters and Service Battalion at Quantico, Virginia. I had a change of MOS to Print Journalist. I was assigned to the Quantico Sentry staff that was located in Lejeune Hall. I attended the Basic Journalist Course at Fort Benjamin Harrison located in Indianapolis, Indiana which helped me contribute stories to the Quantico’s base newspaper. I was fortunate to work with a group of skilled journalists in print, photo and broadcast who were deemed some of the best and brightest writers that the Corp had assembled at that time.
The Quantico Sentry also had a hand in covering the Marine Corps Marathon where I helped assemble press kits and conducted interviews as we provided news coverage on the annual Marine Corps Marathon. The Sentry staff placed second DOD-wide in the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award in 1984 for the best commercial enterprise newspaper in the Marine Corps as well as besting all other military branch newspapers.
I also had the opportunity to be featured in Good Housekeeping July 1985 issue with Jackie Kennedy-Onassis on the magazine cover. This special feature was titled, “Military Makeover” where they selected military women from all the branches of the U.S. military to represent all 50 states. I represented the State of Georgia. I left the Marine Corps after my tour of duty was up in Quantico, Virginia.
I worked in and around the Washington, DC metropolitan area and continued my love for writing,contributing to the Nubian Knowledge Book Club newsletter and the African Heritage Newsletter which expanded my mind about the African Diaspora. I have completed my Bachelors of Arts degree in Business Administration and Management from Sojourner-Douglass College in Baltimore, Maryland and have taken graduate courses toward a Masters of Arts degree in Business Administration focusing on Project Management and a Masters of Science degree in Information System Management focusing on Systems Analysis.