CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Corporal Dalton Kirkey, a financial resource management analyst with I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, was meritoriously promoted to the rank of corporal aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 2, 2014.
Kirkey, from Lansing, Mich., went in front of a board made up of senior Marines to be judged against his peers for this promotion. He was judged based on his fitness, attitude, knowledge of Marine tactics, and the recommendations of his command, and found to be the most qualified candidate.
Staff Sgt. Ariana Obogeanu, the comptroller chief for I MHG, said the transition from lance corporal to corporal in the Marine Corps is a major change. Becoming a noncommissioned officer can be overwhelming, but Kirkey’s leaders have faith in his ability to meet the challenge, Obogeanu said.
“It is a very big jump, but he was ready for it,” she added.
Kirkey’s leaders said they have seen that his character exemplifies the traits of a good NCO.
“He knows the difference between right and wrong, black and white, and he even knows how to navigate the shades of gray,” said Cpl. Miguel A. Ramirez, the accounting chief for I MHG.
Ramirez said he believes that Kirkey has the tools to find the right course of action in difficult situations that aren’t explained in a standard operating procedure or manual.
“It has to come down to his moral compass and his is definitely on the right course,” Ramirez added.
Kirkey attributes much of his success in the Marine Corps to his leaders. His NCOs and staff NCOs gave him the tools he needed to be successful.
“If they believe in you, it gives you an upper hand to believe in yourself,” said Kirkey.
Kirkey’s leadership was impressed with his approach to not only his work, but his coworkers. Kirkey puts the needs of his fellow Marines before himself without expecting any recognition, they said.
When a Marine with very few contacts aboard Camp Pendleton was stranded at San Diego International Airport with no way to get to the base recently, Kirkey abandoned his weekend plans to get that Marine home safely.
“He did that on his own time, with his own vehicle and his own resources,” said Ramirez. “It just came natural to him. You can’t teach that.”
Obogeagu said Kirkey shows his dedication in and out of the office. His work ethic and positive attitude set him apart from his peers.
“He never says no,” said Obogeanu. “He comes in here and just lights up the whole room.”
Kirkey said one of his greatest role models growing up was family friend Bill Landess. Landess served in the U.S. Air Force during the war in Vietnam and went on to build a successful career.
“(Landess) has a law degree. He’s a black belt. He’s a CRNA [Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist],” said Kirkey. “If he did it, I can do it.”
When choosing his military occupational specialty, Kirkey looked for a field that would give him hands-on experience that could help him when he leaves the military.
“There are actually a lot of jobs out in the civilian world that ask for everything we do,” said Kirkey.
Kirkey’s promotion not only added to his work experience and advanced his career; it also improved morale within his office.
“His promotion gives the rest of the Marines in here hope,” said Obogeanu. “He did it, they can do it as well.”
Kirkey recommends that others who are trying to earn a meritorious promotion follow the same advice he got from his leadership.
“Some of us wait for that big moment to get recognized,” said Kirkey. “But it’s the people who do the right thing over and over again who get a name for themselves.”