CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The Marine Corps has a proud history filled with traditions of excellence. From Iwo Jima to Afghanistan Marines have excelled in combat operations and changed lives through humanitarian assistance. This legacy is possible because Marines are trained to be leaders at every level and the institution as a whole emphasizes the need to recognize exceptional leadership.
Sergeant Adam Derfelt, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with 1st EOD Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, was recognized in October 2015, as the Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter for 1st MLG in acknowledgment of his leadership aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
“The NCO is like a middle man,” said Derfelt, a native of Franklin, Massachusetts. “They bridge the gap between the higher ups and the junior Marines.”
Derfelt described the NCO ranks as the glue that holds the Marine Corps together. Because of their unique position where they can teach and mentor the younger Marines and advise senior leadership about troop morale or other potential readiness issues.
The Marine Corps is competitive by nature and the title of NCO of the Quarter is no exception. The process involves boards, inspections and a lifestyle of exceptional performance and dedication.
“You need to be well rounded, good at your job, doing well and exceeding at marksmanship and physical fitness,” said Derfelt. “In EOD, leadership works a little differently because sergeant is the lowest rank, but you can still be a leader and influence your superiors in a positive way just as much as they can influence their subordinates.”
Derfelt has been in the Marine Corps for six years, but conducted a lateral transfer to 1st EOD Company a year ago. Shortly after changing units, he attended Sergeants Course where he finished as honor graduate.
“He pushes himself every day; in physical fitness he’s top of the company,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Fortier, an EOD team leader with 1st EOD, 7th ESB. “He’s always gainfully employed, and in production at work; he excels among his peers,”
Fortier, a native of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, said that Derfelt is a good leader in part because he is a good teacher. In EOD the majority of training is done peer-to-peer, where each person seeks out knowledge to share with the rest of the unit.
“He’s not going to do someone’s job for them, he’s going to teach them how to do it and explain why it’s done that way,” said Fortier. “He goes online, finds out what’s happening overseas and what people are finding, then he puts it together for the other EOD teams to see in person.”
Derfelt said when developing his leadership style he looked at what his good leaders were doing right and tried to find where his other leaders were missing the mark. From there he said he tried to find what leadership style worked best with his personality, but that the biggest influence came from his father.
“My biggest mentor is my dad; his work ethic and everything he taught me,” said Derfelt. “He always stressed integrity and being a man of your word which carries directly over to being a successful Marine.”
As NCO of the Quarter for 1st MLG, Derfelt’s leadership is highlighted and help up as an example for young leaders.
“The Marine Corps is so functional and efficient because we decentralize power to the small unit leaders,” said Derfelt. “With that comes responsibility. You have to have that maturity and that ability to perform under pressure.”
As a corporal, Derfelt was NCO of the Quarter for 1st Supply Battalion, 1st MLG, and he said that in January he hopes to push for NCO of the Year for I MEF. Derfelt’s continued recognition for leadership and dedication is an example of how the Marine Corps encourages self-improvement and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.