John H. Gaukler is a humble man. Most people walking past him would see a kind, quiet professional. There are no plaques or awards adorning his office, no Marine stickers, photos or any inclination as to what his life’s been. But, the work he does is pivotal to the success of his unit and is a familiar task for any retired sergeant major, he takes care of Marines.
The Hawaii-Pacific Federal Executive Board recognized Gaukler, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific’s assistant reserve liaison officer, as the MarForPac Federal Employee of the Year for professionalism, administrative and technical skill April 29 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Hawaii, during the 54th Annual Excellence in Federal Government Awards ceremony.
The annual award is intended to highlight the outstanding contributions of federal employees, which includes service members and civilians, said Doré L. Rojas, a civilian personnel specialist with MarForPac.
“He’s a great guy,” Rojas said. “He’s hard working, really cares about the Marines. He works to make sure the Marines are taken care of and he’s really good at that.”
The Pontiac, Mich. native has served in his current position for almost 10 years. His duties include managing the Active Duty Support Budget, which ensures his command has the funds to activate reserve Marines to serve in active duty positions in garrison or deployed, should the need arise. A task he says aides the accomplishment of MarForPac’s taxing mission.
However, his involvement doesn’t end with number crunching. Gaukler works with activated reserve Marines to ensure their transition is as smooth as possible and assists the Marines with issues, as they arise.
“I started a new chapter in my life when I left the Marine Corps,” Gaukler said explaining the lack of memorabilia from his 1961-91 Marine career. “When I started my career in civil service, I wanted to establish myself because of what I know today not the chevrons on my collar. But, when you leave the Marine Corps, you don’t close the door behind you. Being a Marine is in my blood and when I saw the opportunity to get back to working with Marines, to take care of Marines, I thought it would be great to work with them again.
“I see Marines who have problems with their orders, if they’re reservists, in most cases I can point them in the right direction.”
His ability to guide Marines in the right direction is a skill his superiors have noticed and one of the numerous reasons Lt. Col. James McGuire, MarForPac’s reserve liaison officer, nominated him for the award.
“Mr. Gaukler has done a fantastic job for the year and a half that I’ve been working with him and I’ve heard nothing but good things about his time here before I took over,” McGuire said. “He’s a technical expert in all the systems we use. His character is flawless. His professionalism and competence are of the highest quality and he just has a knack for understanding a Marine’s thought process.
“When a Marine comes to him with a problem, he’s either seen it before or knows where to get the information off the top of his head. He’s just a great guy. Submitting him for the award was a no-brainer”
Despite his exceptional performance, Gaukler is a man who receives no satisfaction from the spotlight. As far as he’s concerned, he’s simply doing his job and taking care of Marines.
“I don’t like receiving personal recognition,” Gaukler said. “I prefer to be behind the scenes. But, I’m honored to receive this award and humbled by my boss nominating me for it.”
Gaukler beat-out all MarForPac civilian employees and service members submitted for this year’s award.
“It was the first time I submitted a civilian for an award like this,” McGuire said. “I can’t say that I’m surprised he was accepted. He’s doing a great job and really deserves it.”