MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- Marines pride themselves on being able to lead Marines, no matter who it is - at any time another Marine can step up and take over without lacking in performance.
That theory was put to the test when Lance Cpl. Victor Perez checked in to his new duty station as a 3rd Recruit Training Battalion administrative clerk in April 2005.
For three months at the end of 2005, Perez was unexpectedly given the reigns of his shop when the administrative chief needed to take emergency leave. His actions during this time earned him a Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
"I had to leave with no warning," said Gunnery Sgt. Tammie Allen, 3rd RTBn. administrative chief. "[Perez] took care of this office with no turnover. It reduced a lot of stress knowing I had the backing of my command and also knowing I had a Marine that was getting the job done."
Perez was able to fill Allen's shoes in all duties expected of an administrative chief, as well as completing his own job.
He attended meetings and dealt directly with the first sergeants from each company in regards to their administrative concerns for their drill instructors and recruits. He also had to take care of any non-judicial punishments and emergency leave requests that occurred over the three-month period. In addition, he processed five company graduations along with the promotion warrants and rifle certificates for each.
"I spoke to all of the staff and they all sang his praises," Allen said, referring to the staff at each company in the battalion.
That was a tremendous relief. If I didn't have him here, then I would probably be torn over what was going on in the shop, said Allen.
The transition was short, but Perez was expected to perform and did just that.
"At first it was tough, but after a while I adapted," said Perez, a native of Dover, N.Y. "It was a lot of multi-tasking, but I had the support of everyone at the battalion. That made life easier, because I was stressed out the first week."
On occasion he called Allen, who provided him with guidance and standard operating procedures that put his mind at ease, said Perez.
Even though the task may have seemed daunting, his prior experiences from Okinawa left him confident in his ability to handle the job. Perez also had his gunnery sergeant and various Marines around the Depot to lean on for support and guidance.
"My wife is also a Marine [working in the administrative shop] at 6th Marine Corps District, and I could rely on her for information as well," Perez said.
Perez said this task was overwhelming in the beginning, but when he stood in formation to receive his medal, he saw the effects his support had on Allen, as well as on the battalion.
"I was proud," he said. "I didn't expect it, but it is nice to know people see what I do."
The proof was definitely in the pudding when the Allen returned and found the shop running like a well-oiled machine.
"When I got back, I found my box empty, and it was as if I had never left," said Allen.
She also now knows when it comes time for her to retire, the shop will be in good hands.
"I know when I get out [of the Marine Corps] he can keep the show running," she said.
Perez should be picking up rank in the next month or so, said Allen.
"If not, he will be going on the next meritorious board," she concluded.