View Full Version : 'Raging Bulls' career planner looks to reload for future

01-28-06, 11:50 AM
'Raging Bulls' career planner looks to reload for future
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story by Cpl. Micah Snead

AL ASAD, Iraq (Jan. 28, 2006) -- The Raging Bulls of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced) are not only supporting the Marine Corps by air, they are reloading it with talent for the future.

Marines and Sailors from HMM-261 (Rein) are currently deployed as the aviation combat element for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) at Al Asad, Iraq. With the help of one Marine, the Raging Bulls are reenlisting and recommitting themselves to the Corps during their deployment.

"Being able to be a part of something that makes the world a better place is something that keeps me in," said Sgt. David Lakey Jr., an intelligence specialist and Paw Paw, Mich., native with HMM-261 (Rein). Lakey reenlisted shortly after the squadron arrived at Al Asad. "Since we have the opportunity to make our reenlistment something we can remember, I chose to have it on the base power generator. It is one of the tallest places here, so I was able to see most of the base. Also, having the group of people that I invited to attend made it that much more memorable."

Sergeant Alfred L. Kennard, a Eutaw, Ala., native, oversees career retention for the deployed Raging Bulls. As a career retention specialist, Kennard counsels Marines on their reenlistment options and prepares and advises the commanding officer on all career planning matters. Kennard said he has a special passion for his job that comes from the simple pleasure of helping his fellow Marines.

"I take a joy in giving Marines good information," Kennard said. "The most important part of my job is providing the Marines with all of the facts so they can make an informed decision about staying Marine or transitioning into the civilian world."

The Corps' current role in the Global War on Terrorism has created a high operational tempo and heavy deployment cycles for many Marines. Kennard said each Marine who chooses to continue their career is making a special sacrifice, especially in a squadron like HMM-261.

The Raging Bulls spent nearly seven months at Al Asad in 2004 and returned in December.

"It is a special thing to see those who are staying Marine at a time like this," Kennard said. "When I reenlist a first term Marine, I feel like I am giving back to the Marine Corps by keeping a proud, strong tradition alive. Seeing a first term Marine transition into a careerist is so special because they know what kind of sacrifice they are tomorrow's sergeants major, master gunnery sergeants and colonels."

Kennard actually intended to only complete one four year contract before leaving the Corps, but found himself with a new plan after broadening his horizons with the 9th Engineer Support Battalion in Okinawa, Japan.

"I was sure that I was getting out after my first four years," Kennard said. "I even planned to get out because I was not interested in the job I had. Once I spent time as a training noncommissioned officer and learned how much I enjoyed helping Marines, I had second thoughts. When I found out I could become a CRS and do nothing but help Marines, I knew that was what I wanted to do."

Kennard said first term Marines, those are still on their first service contract, are most likely to have mixed feelings about whether or not they want to reenlist.

"Some enjoy deployments, others want to be closer to home or with their families," Kennard said. "But, there is room for both if you explore your options. I think every single reenlistment is special. The Marine Corps is very different from what it was four years ago. It is exciting to see how Marines adapt to the new challenges."

Continuing the Marine Corps' tradition of self-sacrifice was part of the allure for Lakey.

"Having the privilege of being a part of a history rich in selfless acts and esprit de corps is a constant part of what keeps me in this branch of service," Lakey said. "No other service in the Department of Defense can claim what we have and what we continue to do. Even though the operational tempo is very high right now, I would advise (Marines) take a look at the effect their job, their leadership and their influence has on those Marines they support and encounter in the Marine Corps."

Sergeant Marcus J. Williams, a CH-46 communications and navigations electrical systems technician with HMM-261 and Memphis, Tenn., native, reenlisted on the USS Nassau before the squadron arrived at Al Asad. Williams, who is married and has two children, has spent almost five of eight years deployed, but said his family supported his decision to reenlist and he is looking forward to his future.

"I was in artillery my first four years, then transitioned to working with 46s, which was very exciting because there were a lot of challenges," Williams said. "Now I'm going to transition the MV-22 Osprey and I know that will be a challenge as well. I knew when I signed the new contract that I was joining something I will enjoy, and I will continue to provide for my family. The Marine Corps has done a lot for me and I like to the opportunity to give something back."

Williams said having a CRS like Kennard is a big help to Marines, whether they are signing their first reenlistment or fifth.

"He is a motivator and was really in tune with helping me," Williams said. "It helps to trust your career planner because your future career is in their hands and that is their profession."

Part of Kennard's mission as the squadron CRS is also to act as the unit's transition counselor for Marines who are ending their active service.

"I am committed to providing everyone with all the facts, whether they are doing four years or 20," Kennard said. "For Marines who transition out, I advise them to prepare early and not just talk about their plans. I never want to lose a good Marine, but I would hate even worse for a Marine to make that transition uninformed and unprepared."

Kennard's advice for every first term Marine, regardless of what they think their plans for the future are, is simple:

"I want all first term Marines to do the right things, stay out of trouble and stay competitive. If you think you are staying four years or 20, keep yourself competitive with your peers and you will have all the options you want."

Kennard said that as long as Marines are aware of their options, the Corps will never have to rebuild its legacy of talent, it will only continue to reload.

"We can and will maintain our high quality if we keep Marines informed," Kennard said. "Knowledge really is power and when we empower our Marines, we are empowering our Corps."