Depot Marine dominates H&S Bn. boards
By Cpl. Thomas Perry
| | July 03, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT/EASTERN RECRUITING REGION PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. - --
Your forehead and palms are covered in sweat. You are surrounded by Marines, but conversation is non-existent. Your entire body seems stiff, and your uniform is starched to the point of being uncomfortable.
You're 10 minutes away from a brief examination by five sets of eyes that could mean the difference between advancing your career and remaining stagnantly in place with the rest of your peers of the same rank and Military Occupational Specialty.
An unusually loud sound of a door closing rips through the air as you realize it's your turn, and with a wipe of your brow, a clearing of your throat and an extremely quick mental glance at all the Marine Corps' knowledge you have rehashed in the last few weeks, you enter the room and begin the board.
Some Marines have trouble dealing with the extremely high pressure that is felt during a board and the hours leading up to it - while others, excel.
Corporal Misty Gatlin, a consolidated memorandum clerk for the Combat Visual Information Center here, is one of those Marines who excel when faced with that pressure. Gatlin, a 23-year-old Westland, Mich. native, has won three of the last four Headquarters and Service Battalion Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter boards. The most recent of which was awarded to her June 21.
The way she handles the pressure is unconventional to say the least.
"For some reason as soon as they say 'give us 30 seconds,' I always feel like I have to pee my pants," said Gatlin, as she shifts uncomfortably in her chair at the mere thought of a board. "I begin to get really nervous and get a feeling that I'm going to mess up."
She rarely does though. In fact, the only H&S Bn. NCO of the Quarter board Gatlin hasn't won over the last year was this year's 1st quarter NCO of the Quarter board in which she didn't compete.
Whether she felt compassion for her competitors and decided to give the other H&S Bn. NCOs a chance to shine, she wouldn't say, but she did explain how she transfers her nervousness and sudden urge to make a break for the bathroom into composure and bearing as soon as she enters the boardroom.
"Once I'm in there and get that first question right, I calm down," said Gatlin. "You have to remember that even if you get a question wrong it's not the end of the world. The Marines you are competing against are human too. Everybody is going to miss questions. You just have to focus on doing your best."
Her philosophy of "always doing your best" is not something she simply turns on and off when it's board time. It's a lifestyle she adopted five years ago when she joined the Marine Corps. Her positive attitude has translated into a successful career and the unquestionable respect of her leadership.
"She's an outstanding NCO who excels at everything she seeks to achieve," said Capt. Mike Lujan, officer in charge of CVIC. "She always stands out. It's nice to have that type of Marine. I can always count on her to come through with outstanding results."
The results are obvious, but the means, at which Gatlin accomplishes those results, could be considered extreme by some.
"Last board I got a Code of Conduct question wrong, and so the next day, I sat down and wrote the complete Code of Conduct 12 times," said Gatlin, as she pulled a thick stack of paper from her desk covered in writing just to prove her point. "It took a lot of paper."
It also took a lot of time, but that is what separates the winners from the losers in every aspect in life. Commitment to the little things and countless hours of preparation are why Gatlin has won the last three boards she has been on.
She has consequently raised the bar for all H&S Bn. NCOs who are hoping to win an NCO of the Quarter board in the near future, but her success is not all the result of dedication. She also has a few tricks she has picked up along the way, but the question is, will she share them with rest of the Depot?
"I can't discuss my secrets," said Gatlin, as her relaxed smile cautiously reveals her sense of humor. "If I do, my competition might beat me next time. Plus, it keeps me Misty-rious."