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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Meritorious achievement: Marine takes sergeant promotion board via VTC

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | November 30, 2012

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Sgt. Aspen K. Thompson, training noncommissioned officer for Military Operations Training Branch, Operations and Training Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, was meritoriously promoted to his current rank Nov. 2 after competing for one of two Marine Corps Installations East meritorious sergeant board allocations.
The Temple, Texas native enrolls Marines into professional military education and military occupational specialty schools. Thompson’s military occupational specialty is motor transportation operator.
Six Marines throughout MCIEAST competed for two meritorious promotions during a board held at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Thompson did not travel to the board site, instead he competed via video teleconference from MCLB Albany.
He said the hardest part of the board was not knowing what questions were going to be asked. He prepared himself for the question and answer session by studying Marine Corps knowledge, customs and courtesies, uniform regulations, weapons systems and Marine Corps history.
His personal goal when he checked in to MCLB Albany nearly a year ago was to pick up sergeant meritoriously, Thompson said. He encourages every Marine to compete on a board.
“If a Marine has what it takes to pick up the next rank, I definitely recommend going on a board,” he said. “Taking part in a board shows you are dedicated to picking up the next rank and you have confidence in your abilities.”
Thompson advises Marines who want to be meritoriously promoted to do as much training as possible and seek advice from board members and previous board participants.
“Some of the training may be redundant, but it will pay off in the long run,” he said. “For example, I completed both the non-resident Corporals Course, which was online, and the resident course. You cannot have too much training.”
For the boards, Marines receive points for rifle and pistol qualifications, physical fitness test, combat fitness test, proficiency and conduct marks and the number of Marine Corps Institute courses and college courses completed.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to compete for meritorious sergeant was because I had missed the cutting score by nearly 60 points,” he said. “Even though I had a first class PFT and CFT, shot expert with the rifle and I am a first-degree black belt Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor, it would have taken me months to pick up sergeant. There was nothing else I could do but wait and hope the score would drop.”
According to Thompson, he has been on six boards, winning half to include NCO of the Quarter and meritorious sergeant boards. One of his most recent honors was receiving the designation of “Hard Charger of the Week” from Marine Corps Installations Command in June.
“Sergeant Thompson is the epitome of professionalism and what a Marine Corps noncommissioned officer should be,” Master Sgt. Mark Carabello, MCLB Albany’s operations and training chief, said. “A meritorious promotion is typically granted when a Marine displays outstanding performance on a consistent basis and the command deems it necessary to reward him or her by promoting him or her to the next rank. Marines who are meritoriously promoted definitely stand out above their peers.”
Nothing is given in the Marine Corps. Everything is earned, especially when it comes to promotions, according to Carabello.
“Meritorious promotions are so unique and special the Marine Corps has set aside its own day for them,” he said. “It’s one thing to achieve meritorious sergeant but it’s another to live it. Sergeant Thompson is one of those guys who can do that.”
Carabello said the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks of Thompson is unselfishness.
“Thompson goes out of his way to give and help anyone no matter if he or she wears the uniform or not,” he said. “He has a desire to give back, do good and help others.”
Carabello described Thompson’s qualities as “rare.”
“Most people focus on themselves and spend little time helping others, whereas Sergeant Thompson has a great balance and emphasizes helping the team,” Carabello said.
During his time off, Thompson volunteers for many activities including coaching Little League football in the local area. His other Marine Corps activities include being a marksman instructor on MCLB Albany’s pistol range.
“Every day when Sergeant Thompson comes in he does not accept the status quo,” Carabello said. “He is always making improvements in his work area, professional realm and striving to do more, not for himself, but for others. He is going to have a great career ahead of him.”

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