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Local Children Learn Marine Corps Style Leadership

Lance Cpl. Monica Erickson, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms

Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin Hester, an instructor and faculty advisor for the Marine Corps Staff Non-commissioned Officer Academy Sergeants Course aboard the Combat Center, gives students a chance to lead the squad through various facing movements during the Career Pathways Tour Sept. 17 at Victory Field. Lance Cpl. Monica Erickson

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms - 09.25.2009

More than 60 students and teachers from the Morongo Unified School District and Copper Mountain College visited the Combat Center Sept. 17 to learn how to become better leaders.

More than a dozen of those students and their teachers met at Victory Field with Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin Hester, an instructor and faculty advisor for the Marine Corps Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy Sergeants Course aboard the Combat Center to learn how close-order drill teaches leadership.

Hester began by appointing three children as squad leaders and the oldest as the guide. He then had all the other children line up in a formation to check accountability. Hester, an Evergreen, Ala., native, explained to the class that maintaining accountability of a group is a key thing a leader does.

"Teaching them the importance of leadership and showing them how to become a better leader will set them up for success in their future," Hester said. "Being able to take control of a situation so they can decide what they want for their future."

Hester taught the children the 14 leadership traits, known by the acronym J.J.D.I.D.T.I.E.B.U.C.K.L.E. This is short for justice, judgment, dependability, initiative, decisiveness, tact, integrity, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty and endurance. The children asked Hester questions about his time in the Corps and Hester asked the children questions about the leadership traits.

Kimberly Douglass, a seventh-grade student, helped answer what the letters meant in the acronym, and gave examples on how each could be applied to leadership.

"The military is full of great leaders," said Annette Bell, the director of the Transfer and Empowerment Program. "And what better way to teach these kids about leadership than have them learn from the best?"

At the end of the day, the students traveled to Felix Field where the Provost Marshal's Office held a demonstration with their military working dogs.

Although the event was mainly designed to show the children a fun time, it also displayed the teamwork between the canine and a handler. The children watched as the dogs took down various opponents and sniffed out minute traces of narcotics.

After the demonstration, the students asked questions about what it was like to have a dog while deployed.

As the tour came to an end the students loaded the bus and began their journey home. The teachers said they felt the children's time aboard the Combat Center helped lead them toward a better future.

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