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thedrifter
10-15-03, 07:27 AM
Natural born leader proves he is number one
Submitted by: 12th Marine Corps District
Story Identification Number: 2003101417573
Story by SSgt. Bobbie J. Bryant



12TH MARINE CORPS DISTRICT, SAN DIEGO(August 2003) -- One day a young man is a high school graduate and a mere three months later he is a leader of Marines. Company honorman is the highest honor a recruit thinks of at recruit training, but only the best will lay claim to the title.

Lance Cpl. Michael J. Eggli now stands among the ranks of the most elite men and women who complete Marine Corps boot camp after graduating August 15, 2003, on the parade grounds, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.

Eggli understood recruit training would be tough, but after contacting his recruiter, Sgt. Robert Mullen nearly a year earlier, he knew he must walk the path only a few have the courage to take.

He was 10-years old when he saw a news article and his Mom said, "These are the Marines. They are the best of the best." Eggli remembers telling her that is what he wanted to be.

At age 16 he went with friends who were in the Delayed Entry Program to run with their recruiters at Recruiting Substation Santa Barbara.

"As soon as I walked into the office, I saw the posters. More important, I saw a person standing in front of me in uniform and I knew I wanted to be like him. He was standing tall and confident. He was disciplined and proud. He made me stand taller in just that split moment of seeing him. Not only did I want to know what it would be like to feel like a Marine but I wanted to let others feel what it felt like to be in the presence of a Marine."

For a recruiter, Eggli was a dream poolee, according to Mullen.

"It didn't take long for him to become the pool guide," his recruiter said. "He was always motivated and knew what it took to get things done. He was always around the substation and willingly did whatever we asked him to do. He went to class talks and gave us the inside scoop on someone we were trying to recruit."

It was that type of personal drive that earned him a meritorious promotion to private first class before leaving for boot camp by giving two referrals to his recruiters.

Not only was he a leader in the Civil Air Patrol, he was also captain of his school's drum line.

"He had such a natural desire to lead we put him in charge of our pool physical training program. He was always motivating the other poolees and running with them," said Cpl. Porras Angel also a recruiter in Santa Barbara.

Although he was in good physical condition, Eggli knew that preparing for the rigors of recruit training would help him meet his goal. Physical training became a number one priority while he was in the DEP.

Eggli's final Physical Fitness Test at MCRD showed the results of his hard work. He ran a 17:50 three-mile, did 17 pull-ups and aced his crunches with a total of 113 in two minutes.

"There is nothing wrong with getting better than a perfect PFT," he said. "Just because the Marine Corps says this is their highest standard, doesn't mean you can't set your personal standards higher."

Words Marine drill instructors are proud to hear from one of their recruits.

Before going to boot camp he completed a challenge many poolees from his RSS do not finish.

Not only did he run in formations with a flack jacket, he also finished 'The Rock of Pain Challenge.' It is a 2.5-mile course they run, walk or crawl with a 57-pound rock. We do not make anyone take it. Only those who want to try, take it. We offered him a little motivation," said Mullen remembering the day Eggli declared he was going to be the company honorman.

Although he proved he could lead in band and the pool, it would take a lot more to make his dream come true. The Santa Barbara native had to take lessons learned from leading with him to training. He had to put his money where his mouth was.

Of course, it was not long before his drill instructors took notice of his ability and desire to lead. So, they gave him a chance.

"Running with poolees taught me that you have to inspire someone to follow you," the honorman said. "As a squad leader I learned that being a leader is more than giving orders. You have to encourage your men and take the time to care about them."

He noticed early on in training that the strong recruits would help the weaker ones.

"If someone had problems with their gear, a stronger recruit would help him. That would give the weaker recruit a chance for hygiene and to read a paragraph from a letter," Eggli said of his squad.

Ultimately he was made platoon guide and lead his fellow recruits through the final phase of training.

Before he could take claim of the highest honor, Eggli had to face the board where he would be inspected with a fine-tooth comb on such things as knowledge, drill, appearance, physical fitness and bearing.

"I was more anxious than nervous. But, I am a quick learner and a history buff. I read a lot about the Marines before I went to training. I would also get up at night during boot camp and read a few paragraphs," he said.

On visitor's Thursday, one day before graduation, his mother who is a nurse and father who is a contractor were told their son would wear his dress blues for graduation. He would lead his company in front of hundreds of guests and Marines. They would sit in the VIP area and watch their son, the company honorman of Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, graduate a United States Marine.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200310141814/$file/honorman02low.jpg

Lance Cpl. Michael J. Eggli, company honorman for Co. M, continues his training at the School of Infantry, Camp Pendleton, Calif. before getting the chance to make his mark at his first duty station in the fleet.
Photo by: Cpl T. E. Harris


http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/image1.nsf/Lookup/200310141868/$file/honorman01low.jpg

Lance Cpl. michael J. Eggli tosses a practice grenade while trainingat the School of Infantry, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Photo by: Cpl. Christopher H. Fitzgerald

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/A2CCAB3098B1C24C85256DBF00789479?opendocument

The Drifter
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