MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- On the mist soaked morning of Aug. 3, onlookers gathered under red tents to celebrate the 34-year career of Col. Brent Goddard, chief of staff, Marine Corps Logistics Command, for his retirement ceremony held at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
Rows of MCLC and base Marines stood in formation, alternating between attention and parade rest as the ceremony dictated. This image, combined with the parade field flanked by military vehicles, not only framed Goddard as he stood in the center, but also spoke to his accomplishment of retiring as a colonel of Marines.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Charles Hudson, commanding general, MCLC, presented Goddard with the Legion of Merit Gold Medal in lieu of Second Award, “for the exceptional and meritorious service as Chief of Staff of Marine Corps Logistics Command,” as stated in the citation.
Afterward, Hudson praised Goddard’s service as well as the service of his wife, Kelly.
“He has given 34 years of service to his country in the United States Naval Service,” Hudson said. “That is truly a lifetime of service. He enlisted in the United States Navy as a corpsman supporting Marines. He then attended the United States Naval Academy, a tremendous accomplishment after being accepted to the BOOST (Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training) program. Right off the bat, we saw that this future Marine was a little out of the ordinary. He was a little something special.”
Kelly, mother and mother-in-law to Marines, was also recognized for her accomplishments in leading the way for Marine Corps families and spouses by serving as a Family Readiness Advisor and Volunteer Coordinator. Kelly also served as the officer-in-charge at the Marine Corps’ commander’s spouses program in Quantico, Va., leading a strategic leadership program where Marine Corps spouses learned firsthand the “criticality” of the command team concept and the (importance) a commander’s spouse plays in a command, according to a letter written by Hudson, which was presented during the ceremony.
When Goddard stepped front and center before the audience he said the ceremony was not only a great opportunity to thank those who had worked with him but also to address the Marines.
“Good morning, Marines,” he said. “I remember standing in formation like you are now for the first time, thinking the same thing you’re thinking right now, ‘I’ll never be there.’ I’m telling you right now if you are thinking that you are wrong, because out there in formation are sergeants major, are master gunnery sergeants, colonels and probably even a general or two. You are all Marines and you are the future of our country and our Corps. So my last words to you are this, do not let anyone tell you that you can’t be something, because whether you are in four years or 40 years, you will still be the future of this country and leaders of this country.”
As a corpsman in the Navy, Goddard was attached to Marines. Positive leadership examples motivated him to seek a commission in the Marine Corps, he noted.
“I watched both Navy and Marine Corps officers in command, and I wanted to command,” Goddard said. “I knew that I had to get a commission in order to command, so I applied for the BOOST program and was accepted. Since that time, I have commanded from the platoon to the regimental level and have enjoyed every minute of it. Working for that commission was the best decision I have ever made.”
Within the span of this 34-year journey, the former MCLC Chief of Staff stated that the moment of his commissioning served as his most memorable event.
“The most memorable moment was when President (Ronald) Reagan commissioned me at the Naval Academy and I realized I was a Marine,” he said.
Throughout his time in the Marine Corps, Goddard has learned numerous lessons and the best lesson, according to him, centered on engaged leadership.
“The best lesson is that regardless of rank, we are all responsible for engaged leadership,” Goddard said. “Too many times, senior staff noncommissioned officers and officers think that it is no longer their job. If everyone is engaged from the fire team leader on up, most of our problems can be minimized if not eliminated.
“The best way to take care of Marines and Sailors is to practice leadership by wandering around,” he added. “Regardless of your rank, you have to be out and about to see what is happening and to be accessible. This allows you to truly take care of the needs of your Marines.”
The former Chief of Staff also had words of advice for his replacement.
“The primary challenge is to get the rest of the Marine Corps to understand all of the great things MCLC does each and every day,” Goddard said. “It has been an ongoing challenge to communicate this logistics support to Headquarters Marine Corps and the Marine Expeditionary Forces, and one of the things I recommend is that my replacement continues to attack.”
Throughout his career, Goddard said his proudest moment was leading Marines into combat.
“My proudest accomplishment was leading a battalion in combat,” he said. “As commanding officer of 2d Maintenance Battalion, I had a great group of Marines and Sailors who deployed with me in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and they exceeded my expectations for every mission I assigned to them.”
Goddard went on to say that his service and the service of others have motivated his sons to join the Marine Corps. Goddard promoted one to captain as his last act as an active-duty officer.
“I think many Marine leaders had an impact on his decision to become a Marine,” he said. “He has seen that the Marine Corps is family and we look out for each other. He wanted to continue to be a part of that family.”