View Full Version : From the ground up

05-16-04, 11:16 AM
From the ground up
Submitted by: MCRD San Diego
Story Identification #: 2004514171643
Story by Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(May 14, 2004) -- Strong family values, martial arts, and high school sports were the tools that helped Sgt. Andrew L. Suthers, Platoon 3062, come into the Corps ready to lead.

"He always gives his best effort in everything he does," said Mary Jane Suthers about her son. "Every time he starts something, he strives to be the best."

Suthers credits his moral development as a leader to his parents.

"They taught me a lot about courage and self-discipline," said Suthers.

"We are very proud of him," said Mary Jane. "We gave him the foundation and he built from there."

Suthers began harnessing his leadership by studying martial arts, where he learned to never quit until he had accomplished his objectives.

"I remember we had to break a block of wood with our hand in order to progress to the next belt," said Suthers about his experience in Tae kwon do. "I can't remember how many times I hit that block, but I did break it."

In high school, the young man from Monroe, Wis. would become a football varsity letterman and wrestling team captain. Wrestling was where Suthers found his greatest challenge and his greatest reward.

"The worst thing that can happen to a wrestler is getting pinned," said Suthers. "You not only get stuck, but you give the other team more points than they would have gotten if you were beaten technically (on points). "I would do everything in my power to avoid being pinned ... I didn't want to let my team down."

Suthers' competitiveness at home with his older brother created a-tug-of-war that Suthers said swayed his decision to enlist in the Marine Corps instead of the Army.

"I couldn't give him the satisfaction to say he went to a tougher boot camp than I," said Suthers about his brother who had joined the Marine Corps approximately one year before he joined.

Suthers' unwillingness to surrender bragging rights was the deal sealer in his final decision to join the Corps. However, the first impressions he received from each service's recruiter during visits to his home also helped him choose the Marines over the Army.

"The Army's recruiter was tired and unprepared; he said he wanted to go home and see his wife," said Suthers. "When the Marine recruiter came to my house, he was prepared and professional. I saw the intangible benefits the Marine Corps offered ... that changed my mind."

With his mind set on the Marine Corps, Suthers found himself aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego two weeks after his 18th birthday

"The challenge is the main reason I joined," said Suthers. "Being the platoon honorman of my platoon, I found that gaining the respect of the other recruits in my platoon was the hardest challenge I faced in recruit training."

During his early career as a Marine, Suthers learned that leading by example is the best way to gain anyone's respect. Today, he uses the same leadership principles he learned as a recruit to train recruits.

Drill instructors are often considered the epitome of the Marine Corps image. Suthers knows that to some of his recruits, he is the only positive male role model they have ever known. For this reason, he strives for excellence in everything he does to show them anything is possible.

He uses the prototypical drill instructor method to make Marines, which is breaking them down to build them up.

"I challenge them to prove me wrong," said the award-winning drill instructor of the quarter about one of his motivational methods. "I do this to develop personal pride within each recruit. Once they have that personal pride in themselves and in what they are doing, that same pride will integrate into the development of the entire platoon and ultimately the Marine Corp as a whole."

Suthers said that the future of the Marine Corps begins in recruit training. It's a job he takes very seriously and admits he would not be able to do without the support of his wife, Ruth Suthers.

"Ruth is a big part of his life and success as a Marine," said Mary Jane. "She takes on everything while he's gone making Marines."

"I take care of the home front so he can focus on his job," said Ruth.

She said her husband's dedication to the Corps may limit the amount of time he has at home, but it does not limit the care and love he gives to her and their 11-month-old daughter.

"He is completely dedicated, but at the same time very thoughtful," said Ruth. "Recently, he took the baby out shopping and came back with a gift and a card, thanking me for all the support.

"He is a leader in every sense of the word at work and at home."


Drill instructor Sgt. Andrew Suthers, Platoon 3062, Company L, works with his platoon honorman PFC Alvarado Alfredo II on close-order drill. Photo by: Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint


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