A Blessing in Disguise

Diatribes of a Knucklehead

While a was a Battalion SgtMaj I was stopped by one of our Chief Instructors (a GySgt) and he told me he fired one of his hand selected instructors and told him never to return.

Now, I wanted to support the GySgt, but what the hell? I think I should have some say here brother. I did support the GySgt by removing the Sgt from his staff, but I did not punish him. I sent him to another unit in the Battalion, where he quickly took over.

He turned out to be the most outstanding Combat Shooting Instructor I have ever witnessed; and then he was leading a group of amazing coaches that trained every Marine Lieutenant in Combat shooting; he stepped-up the game for himself and everyone around him.

Again, no NJP, thank goodness – he was a “Godsent” to every Lt that was trained by him and his men.

In the same unit we had a Sgt get into trouble and was reduced in rank to Cpl; and thrown off of the USMC Shooting Team. I moved him to the Combat Marksmanship unit where he worked on our pistol range. Anytime there was a shooter that was having much trouble with handgun shooting we put Cpl Footer on them. Cpl Footer had an amazing ability to get shooters to calm down and shoot acutely; he was a Godsend, not only to the shooters, but to the unit as a whole.

Another time I received a call from a fellow SgtMaj that worked for the General above my General. He told me he had a POS E-7 that he wanted to send me; off the books – therefore not against my headcount. He said to have him pick up cigarette butts for the next 18 months; or whatever I wanted to do with him. The next morning a squared away GySgt in Service Alphas (Marine Green Dress Uniform) showed up in front of my office; so, I invited him into my office and asked for his side of the story. I could see his side. There I had a squared away, grunt SNCO, who claimed he wanted to work. I was short a 1stSgt so I told him:

Me: SgtMaj _____ told me to have you pick up cigarette butts for next 18 months; and that is fine if that is what you want to do?

GySgt: SgtMaj, I am not a shithead. I am an outstanding Marine who pissed off the wrong people.

Me: Great. I need a 1stSgt at _____ _______, can you handle it?

GySgt: Well, I have never served as a 1stSg, but with your help I am sure I will do great things.

Me: Great, get to work. Your office in that building right over there; go introduce yourself.

I did this on purpose. The Marines he was about to lead would eat him alive if he was weak; I wanted him to prove he was a leader – he did. He was an exceptional leader of Marines. He never disappointed me; not even once. This second chance worked out great for me; I needed a 1stSgt and he did a great job – which made my life easier.

The moral of the story: Always get both side of the story and challenge your so-called POS. There is no such thing as a bad Marine; BUT there are Marines doing jobs that they are not made for (there are some turd exceptions; but they are few and far between).


By David Devaney

David K. Devaney SgtMaj USMC Retired 2009 City of Hit Iraq with PTTDavid was born in Geneva New York and graduated from Geneva High School in 1980. He joined the Marine Corps on a guaranteed Infantry contract in April of 1983. After graduating boot camp he was stationed in Hawaii with 3rdBattalion 3rd Marines (3/3). While assigned to 3/3 he held billets as a rifleman, fire team leader, and squad leader. During 1986 Corporal (Cpl) Devaney was selected as a member of Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine. Upon graduation of Scout Sniper School he was assigned to the Scout Sniper Section of 3/3 STA Platoon. During his second deployment as a Scout Sniper with 3/3 he was promoted to Sergeant (Sgt). After a tour on the drill field from 1989-1991 Sgt Devaney returned to STA 3/3 were he deployed two more times. During 1994 Sgt Devaney was selected to the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt) and ordered to III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), Special Operation Training Group (SOTG); while at SOTG SSgt Devaney was assigned as a Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) and Urban Sniper Instructor and Chief Instructor. At the time III MEF SOTG Instructors were members of Joint Task Force 510 (JTF 510 CT); a Counter Terrorism Task Force. In 1998 he deployed to Operation Desert Fox with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4 and was attached to Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 572/594 as a sniper. SSgt Devaney deployed again, during 2000, with ODA 135/136/132 to Malaysia as member of JTF 510, working with the Malaysian National Police. After leaving SOTG Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Devaney was assigned to Company A 1st Battalion 7th Marine, and spent much of his time training the Scout Snipers of 1/7. Just before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, he was selected to the rank of First Sergeant (1stSgt) and led 270 Marines, sailors, and soldiers during combat – receiving a Bronze Star Medal for destroying the enemy and their will to fight. During 2004 1st Sgt Devaney was ordered to duty as the Inspector Instructor Staff 1st Sgt for 2nd Beach and Terminal Operations Company, Savannah, Georgia. During 2007 he was selected to the rank of Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) and received orders to Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4) stationed at Cherry Point, NC. There he trained a CADRE which in turn trained a massive Quick Reaction Force in combat operations. After two more deployments to Iraq SgtMaj Devaney received orders to Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, VA. SgtMaj Devaney retired from the Marine Corps on 31 December 20013. He now works as an adjunct combat instructor at the “Crucible’’ in Fredericksburg, VA. David is also on the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Association. David’s published work: Books Devaney, D.K. (2007). Surviving combat: Mentally and physically (3rd edition). 29 Palms, CA: USMC. Devaney, D.K. (2015). They Were Heroes: A Sergeant Major’s Tribute to Combat Marines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Articles Devaney, D.K. (2011) Enough Talk of Suicide, Already! Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2011) Can PTSD Be Prevented Through Education? Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2012) PTSD Is Not Cancer. The Marine Corps Gazette. Devaney, D.K. (2012) Women in Combat Arms Units. The Marine Corps Gazette.

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