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Sgt. Hope Timberlake, postal clerk, Post Office, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, assists a Marine with her mail, Aug. 21. She as meritoriously promoted to her current rank during a ceremony held here, Aug. 2.

Photo by Nathan Hanks

Set apart: Marine uses leadership principle to achieve meritorious promotion

23 Aug 2017 | Nathan Hanks Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions is one of 11 principles that shape the foundation of a Marine Corps leader.


Sgt. Hope Timberlake, postal clerk, Post Office, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, has honed this leadership principle, setting herself apart from her peers, resulting in a recent meritorious promotion to her current rank.


“This (principle is) what I live by in the Marine Corps and in life,” Timberlake said. “I live by this principle by operating with integrity and accepting constructive criticism.


“At every task that I am given, I try to perform at the highest level I am capable of,” she said. “This principle is important to me because it's what keeps the wheel in forward motion in the Marine Corps.


“As Marines, we should always want to grow as a leader and this principle relates to every single one of us,” she added.

Timberlake’s demonstration of readiness, responsibility, initiative and eagerness to lead showed during a recent company-level board held at MCLB Albany.


When asked by Sgt. Maj. Johnny Higdon, sergeant major, MCLB Albany, why she should be promoted to the rank of sergeant, she replied, “the Marines in the hallway had to prepare for this; sergeant major, I was already ready.


“Basically I meant as a corporal, you should be (preparing yourself) for the next rank, which for me is sergeant,” she continued. “What you should be doing during your time as a corporal is taking on those leadership roles of a sergeant. As Marines, we should always be ready for the next rank, for war or whatever. We should always be ready.”


Timberlake, who has been stationed aboard MCLB Albany since Nov. 21, 2016, believes she was promoted ahead of her peers because of her daily duties, physical fitness, education and community service.


“As a postal clerk, my daily duties consist of supervising the directory section which includes being responsible for the processing of all undeliverable mail aboard the installation, supervising and ensuring that all official mail for the base is processed in the most cost effective way and is responsible for the distribution of mail boxes to the appropriate personnel,” she said.


The board members look for more than Marines just doing their job, they want to see if they have the whole Marine concept, she added.


“I maintain a high-level of readiness including a high first class combat fitness test and physical fitness test in addition to holding a greenbelt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program,” she pointed out.


Education progression is also another item the board members want to see, she noted.


“During my off-duty hours, I attended the University of Maryland University College, online, where I received my associates degree in mathematics in May 2017,” she said. “I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree majoring in psychology with a minor in mathematics at UMUC.”


The native of Cleveland, Ohio, said she has also written several book reports from the Commandant’s Reading List as well as volunteer with the Young Marines feeding the homeless Thanksgiving Dinner in 2016, Toys For Tots Program and coached students from the International Studies Charter School during their field day.


According to the sergeant, this is her second time being meritoriously promoted. She was promoted to the rank of lance corporal, meritoriously, in 2015.


To date, Timberlake has competed on seven meritorious boards throughout her short career, learning many valuable lessons from each one.


“I have learned to never sell yourself short, no matter how you feel about the situation or if you think you are not good enough,” she stressed. “Don't be discouraged because the personnel on the board may see something in you the other Marines may not have.”


Timberlake gave some advice for junior Marines who want to make the Corps a career.


“Ask to be put on any board, Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter, Marine of the Quarter or meritorious boards,” she said. “Even if you think you are not ready, I recommend competing on a board because it gives you a great opportunity to see what you need to work on. You're not going to learn if you don't put yourself out there. It's a great experience.”


Timberlake, who enlisted in the Marine Corps on April 28, 2014, said she was glad she became an enlisted Marine first.


“I figured being enlisted will help me get a different eyesight of how things work on this side,” she said. “I have experienced how it feels to be enlisted especially as a junior Marine because it is very important to understand how your junior Marines look at things.”


Timberlake’s immediate goal is to attend sergeant’s course. Once completed, her next objective is to apply for the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program and become an officer in the Marine Corps.


“I want that responsibility of being an officer,” she said.


Master Sgt. Jeremy Singleton, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Military Personnel Branch, MCLB Albany, had the opportunity to brief Timberlake’s package to the Marine Corps Installations East board panel.


“Sergeant Timberlake competed at the Marine Corps Installations East board level where she was one of three Marines to be meritoriously promoted,” he said. “There were six corporals who competed for meritorious promotion and there were three quotas.


“What made her stand out was that she showed that she can do more than just her job,” he said. “She pursued off-duty education, (volunteered in the) community and she read books off of the Commandant’s Reading List. She has the whole Marine concept.


“It's these types of things that showed the panel members that she was not just doing the norm, which is the reason I think she was meritoriously promoted,” he said.


Timberlake asked Singleton to pin on one of her chevrons during the recent promotion ceremony.


“I knew at that point she could handle the added responsibility as a sergeant,” he said. “Not one time did I think were we doing the wrong thing by promoting her early.


“I knew that we were doing the right thing, no question about it,” he said. “She can handle the responsibilities and I know she will assist other Marines to get them to the point of being meritoriously promoted.”

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