USS KEARSARGE, At Sea --
Many Marines strive for greatness. It is forged into their blood the first day they step on those yellow footprints at boot camp; the day the transformation begins.
Sgt. William Repass, assistant headquarters commandant assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit plans to become one of the few to infuse the prominent and unmatched military mindset of leadership, initiative and discipline into the hearts of his recruits.
“I wanted to be a drill instructor ever since I set foot on Parris Island,” said Repass. “Ever since I saw them, I knew I would spend time in my Marine Corps career as a drill instructor. I love everything about them. I love how it is the first thing you see when you first get off the bus and you think to yourself ‘that is what a Marine is.’ I want to train recruits to be Marines: to take an ordinary civilian and mold them into what the Marine Corps’ expectations are. I think there is no greater thing you could do for the Marine Corps than to actually make people into Marines.”
Repass said he wants to make sure he instills in his recruits what he thinks it means to be a good Marine. He said they need to understand that to be a respectable Marine one has act professional. They also have to understand and act upon the Marine Corps’ 14 leadership traits. He said one of the biggest things he hopes to pass is the importance of integrity.
Passing up traditional reenlistment incentives, such as money or the option to choose one’s duty station, Repass used his reenlistment incentive to deploy with the 26th MEU to be able to help better teach Marines in the future.
“In my eyes, in order to teach people how to be a Marine you have to have certain things accomplished in your career, and deploying for me was one of those things,” said Repass. “Now, when I become a drill instructor, I’ll have a deployment under my belt and when the recruits ask me questions about deployments I will be able to answer it from firsthand experience.”
The duties performed by Repass have exceeded his expectations, not only is he getting the experience of a deployment, he is getting good preparation on coordinating and controlling groups of Marines, something that is crucial for a drill instructor to be able to accomplish.
“As police sergeant, he is responsible for all life support activities for the MEU,” said Master Sgt. John Collins, 26th MEU headquarters commandant from Monterey, Calif. “He coordinates trash removal, maintenance requests, cleanliness, ships taxes and any other tasks that affect cleanliness by reporting of maintenance issues. We are a two man section now since our cook, Sgt [Andrew] Dennison, is working in the galley. [Repass] has become my right hand man and can assist me with many of my tasks.”
Since joining the 26th MEU shortly before their deployment Repass has made his presence known. Coordinating many working parties and taking complete control of hundreds of Marines and sailors during a resupply at sea, he utilizes his preferred leadership style of leading from the front. If he is not giving instruction or passing information, it is not unusual to see him working side by side with everyone else.
“When you are trying to get a group of people to do the exact same thing it is kind of hard because not everybody understands what needs to happen,” said Repass. “If I show them firsthand what exactly needs to be done by actually doing it, there is far less room for error. I find it is also encouraging to show the Marines the job needs to get done, regardless of who is doing it. If I can do it, they can too.”
Recently, Repass has been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his actions with the 26th MEU. He said it meant even more to him when Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer, informed him that it was the first time he had ever awarded the medal to a Marine. He said he received it for his hard work and his mission accomplishment. He said when he sees something that needs to be done, he gets it done without being told.