Face of Defense: British NCO Trains Future Marine Leaders

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — British Roy­al Marine Colour Sgt. Richy Asson strives to pro­vide chal­leng­ing, safe and prop­er train­ing in his job as the phys­i­cal train­ing advi­sor at the U.S. Marine Offi­cer Can­di­date School here.

U.S. Marine Officer Candidate School at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Va.
British Army Colour Sergeant Richy Asson, the phys­i­cal train­ing advi­sor for the U.S. Marine Offi­cer Can­di­date School at Quan­ti­co Marine Corps Base, Va., moti­vates can­di­dates to run faster July 28, 2011.
U.S. Marine Corps pho­to by Cpl. Jahn R. Kuiper
Click to enlarge

Asson works direct­ly with the com­mand­ing offi­cer to decide the most effec­tive and safest way for can­di­dates to train, and he also over­sees the U.S. Marine phys­i­cal train­ing instruc­tors.

Few peo­ple know how a British Roy­al Marine earned the posi­tion where he helps train future Amer­i­can offi­cers. It began in 1972, Asson said, when two high-rank­ing offi­cers from OCS and the Roy­al Marines Com­man­do Train­ing Cen­ter in Devon, Eng­land, got togeth­er.

“The sto­ry goes that because the [U.S. Marine Corps] doesn’t have a [mil­i­tary spe­cial­ty] that’s a phys­i­cal train­ing expert, the Amer­i­can offi­cer asked us to send one of our phys­i­cal train­ing instruc­tors to head up train­ing here at OCS,” Asson said. “In exchange, they would send an infantry trained gun­nery sergeant to be the advi­sor to one of our pla­toon com­man­ders and help admin­is­trate one of our pla­toons of enlist­ed recruits going through the Roy­al Marines Com­man­do Train­ing Cen­ter. It was a clas­sic ‘switcha­roo.’”

After 20 years of ser­vice in the British Roy­al Marines, 15 of them as a phys­i­cal train­ing instruc­tor, and after head­ing the phys­i­cal train­ing course at the Roy­al Marines Com­man­do Train­ing Cen­ter, Asson was told he would be mak­ing the trip across the pond in 2010.

Asson said he was delight­ed to be cho­sen.

“In our field, this is the most pres­ti­gious job, and I’m hon­ored to be here,” he said. “This is the job every­one wants, because you get to come to Amer­i­ca and be an advi­sor to the colonel, you’re pret­ty much on your own, and [you] get to run things how you see fit. And you get to help mold the can­di­dates here at OCS.”

It’s impor­tant for the offi­cer can­di­dates to train safe­ly, Asson said.

“I make sure the cours­es here are safe to train on. For exam­ple, if the obsta­cle course has ice on it, I’ll shut it down,” he said. “I make sure the can­di­dates stay safe and see to it that the instruc­tors con­duct train­ing prop­er­ly.”

The lead­er­ship at OCS con­sid­ers Asson’s role to be vital.

“The Marine Corps doesn’t have a phys­i­cal train­ing expert as a job, so the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence he brings is cru­cial,” said Col. Rick Jack­son, the OCS com­mand­ing offi­cer. “He is the one that ensures the can­di­dates are meet­ing the phys­i­cal stan­dards expect­ed of our grad­u­ates and rec­om­mends if they are pre­pared for the rig­ors of the basic school.

“He is the duty expert,” the colonel con­tin­ued, “and with­out him we would real­ly just be guess­ing on what the best train­ing would be. Just like a bat­tal­ion has a gun­ner as a weapons expert, he is our expert, and I con­sult with him on all phys­i­cal train­ing mat­ters.”

But this wasn’t only a com­mit­ment for the colour sergeant, but also for his wife and famil,y who came to Amer­i­ca with him on the two-year tour.

“I have my wife, Nick­ey, and my 13-year-old twins, Bil­ly and Megan, here with me,” Asson said. “It was hard, espe­cial­ly for the twins, to adjust with school and all, but now they all are real­ly enjoy­ing being here in Amer­i­ca.”

Asson said he strives to excel at his mis­sion at OCS.

“I always make sure I give 100 per­cent and give a good show­ing of myself,” Asson said. “If I drop my stan­dard, it looks bad on not only OCS but also the Roy­al Marines. I’m the only one here, so I must give my all to main­tain the image of my ser­vice. I approach my mis­sion here with the utmost impor­tance.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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