Marine Corps Logistics Base ALBANY Ga. --
Being No. 1 is nothing new for one member of the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, here; however it’s something she speaks about humbly and gratefully.
A legal assistance noncommissioned-officer-in-charge, Cpl. JoAnna Sudduth just added being promoted meritoriously to sergeant to her list of Marine Corps accomplishments.
Sgt. Maj. Conrad Potts, sergeant major, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, and Gunnery Sgt. Morgon Latimore, legal services chief, OSJA, pinned on her sergeant chevrons during a promotion ceremony today in front of Building 3500.
Sudduth, who arrived at MCLB Albany, Dec. 11, 2009, as a private first class, received her regularly scheduled promotion to lance corporal and then began her string of top achievements. She was meritoriously promoted to corporal, June 2, 2010, and was the honor graduate for the corporals’ course here in October 2010.
Potts, who was among the panel of sergeants major for Sudduth’s meritorious sergeant board at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C., described her performance on the board as exemplary.
“She came into the board with confidence and motivation that set her apart from the others appearing before the board,” Potts said. “She answered the majority of questions asked; some she answered she was the only one of the six to answer correctly.”
“I am extremely proud of her and what she has accomplished,” he added. “To come out number one of the six (who) were represented from all the commands of Marine Corps Installations East is an enormous feat, especially when you think of how many corporals there are in the entire command. I was just honored to have such an outstanding candidate to represent us from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.”
Latimore, who was promoted to gunnery sergeant the day before Sudduth, depicted her as “an awesome Marine. To see her succeed feels good. She is not only an example for this office; she is an example for every Marine on this base and every Marine in general because of her maturity level and her drive to better herself continuously. I’m very proud of her. I hope she continues her service as a Marine.”
Sudduth credited her drill instructors for her achievements.
“Never in a million years did I think that this could happen to me,” Sudduth said, noting she began Marine Corps recruit training, April 27, 2009, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. “My senior drill instructor, Staff Sergeant Abbott, set the pace for me. She let me know there is nothing you can’t do. All my drill instructors showed me that you can still be a woman and be strong, stay true to who you are and still keep with the high standards of the United States Marine Corps.”
She added that her dad, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant, and her brother, Lance Cpl. Anthony O’Neal, an avionics technician for AV-8 Harriers serving with Marine Attack Squadron 542, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., were her inspiration for joining the Marine Corps.
“I watched (my brother) graduate from Parris Island (in December 2008) and I knew this (was) what I wanted to do,’” Sudduth said. “He’s my younger brother. He’s super supportive. He helped me study for the meritorious sergeant board. The night before, he came down to see me (at Camp Lejeune). He had dinner with me and we studied together.” Even though it wasn’t her first meritorious sergeant board she appeared before, she characterized all the months of preparation this second time as the hardest part of the process. Her board, consisting of Marine Corps-related knowledge, current events and general orders, lasted around 10 minutes.
“The best way I can explain it is when I went in, it just felt right,” Sudduth said. “I felt prepared. I had tremendous support from the base. Staff noncommissioned officers were giving me their best advice and guiding me. I think being able to see my brother and watching him help me study made me realize that’s what this is about - us helping each other to be a better person, a better Marine. I went in there with that mentality.”
“I can’t do what I do without a strong foundation,” she continued. “The Marines are my foundation and they are the ones (who) propel me, help me succeed and believe in me. It felt good to win, but I felt like I was winning for Albany. I was representing Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and I could come back and say we won.”
Sudduth’s parents, Juanita and Victor Van Horne, learned about her promotion right after she told her brother.
“I went to Cherry Point to see (my brother) and I told him the news,” Sudduth, the oldest sibling among her brother and two sisters, said. “(My dad) was very happy for me. He congratulated me. My mom was very excited for me and called me and congratulated me as well.”
Sudduth also portrayed her husband, Derek, as a pillar in her foundation and said he was so supportive. Derek, transition assistance counselor, Transition Assistance Management Program, Marine and Family Services, here, and JoAnna have been married almost three years. They have two dogs - Agnes, a 3-year-old grey hound, a retired racing dog, and Bruno, a 9-year-old black Labrador, a retired explosives dog.
“(Derek) was so happy for me,” she said. “He was ecstatic. He has been another pillar in that foundation. He’s another one I couldn’t do this without. He’s been cheering for me through this whole process.”
From Burlington, Ky., the 27-year-old Marine thanked “everyone in the command, (who) believed in me, supported me and taught me everything I know. I’m just truly grateful and humble to be a part of the Marine Corps. Without them it wouldn’t be possible. They help make me who I am so I am forever grateful.”