CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
For more than 230 years, the Marine Corps has developed leaders and instilled the importance of selfless service in men and women from different walks of life.
Among these few and proud are Marines like Sgt. LaVonne A. Watkins who goes beyond his duties to lead his subordinates and represent the Corps.
Watkins, and Albemarle, N.C. native, embodies the Corps’ beliefs with his dedication to being a leader and influencing a younger generation of Marines, said his supervisor, Master Sgt. Kenneth R. Medlock, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific systems engineering chief.
“The core values of honor, courage and commitment are the essential tools Sgt. Watkins carries with him everyday,” said Medlock. “He is highly motivated and his attitude becomes contagious to where other Marines tend to emulate it.”
Through his participation in activities that expand beyond his regular work day as an electronic key management system alternate manager, Watkins sets an example for young Marines to follow.
Junior Marines take notice to his pride and motivation.
Watkins is known throughout MarForPac as a motivated Marine who approaches his duties with enthusiasm and pride, said Cpl. Jacob McFarland, MarForPac commanding general communication team member, who has worked in Watkins’ charge.
“No matter what task he takes on, he has a positive attitude,” McFarland said. “His motivation motivates me.”
When a volunteer opportunity arises, he does not hesitate to participate.
“I volunteer and participate in different events because it is a chance to do something different and help someone other than myself,” said Watkins.
One of these volunteer opportunities is the Adopt-a-School program.
Through the program, Watkins shares his time with children in the Hawaii public school system by participating in various events which include youth track meets, breakfasts and helping the children with their homework.
“It is inspirational to see that you can make a difference and make a child smile,” Watkins said.
In addition to volunteering within the community, Watkins, a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program black belt instructor, also dedicates time to train Marines in the skills they need to advance to their next MCMAP belt.
“As tough as the green belt course is meant to be, Sgt. Watkins’ attitude and teaching approach make it fun,” said Pfc. Scott A. James, a G-6 customer service liaison and current MCMAP green belt course student.
As MarForPac color sergeant, Watkins proudly represents our Corps and country at different events and ceremonies, sometimes including joint events with the other services.
“Sergeant Watkins’ pride shows through his emphasis on precision,” said James, who participates in the MarForPac color guard. “He does everything with confidence.”
Watkins does not volunteer his time to add more rows or devices to his ribbon rack.
“Awards don’t make the Marine,” he said.
What makes a Marine and measures his success as a noncommissioned officer are the accomplishments of Marines in his charge, said Watkins, who joined the Marine Corps to learn leadership, among other things.
“I like seeing my Marines succeed after I train them,” said Watkins. “If they succeed, I succeed.
“As a leader you want to be someone Marines can look at and say, ‘I want to be like him,’ then watch them strive to be better,” said Watkins.
Watkins also makes sure his appearance reflects positively on the Marine Corps.
“He takes pride in his physical fitness and appearance as a Marine,” McFarland said.
In his free time, Watkins participates in the Camp Smith Raiders football team as a defensive lineman to stay in shape and participate in a sport he has enjoyed since his days as starting wide receiver for the Albemarle High School Bulldogs.
When he is not on the field, he is on the sidelines screaming and motivating the rest of the team, said Lance Cpl. Timothy Johnson, Camp Smith Raiders running back.
Watkins wanted to make his own decisions after high school and do something other than what was expected of him.
Although he was offered several football scholarships, Watkins is the only student in his graduating class who became a Marine, he said.
“I have always wanted to serve,” said Watkins.
“Sergeant Watkins is a well-rounded Marine,” said Medlock. “He is a very good role model for others to follow.”
During Watkins’ career, he has completed a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and worked with infantrymen and field artillery.
He has also participated in several training exercises and a tour as an instructor at the Jungle Warfare Training Center.
With his wide range of experience and knowledge, he gives junior Marines something to strive for.
Watkins, 25, has recently been selected to staff sergeant and hopes to have continued success on his journey as a career Marine and help as many Marines as he can along the way.
“Sergeant Watkins has inspired me to strive to pick up staff sergeant before I am 25 years old,” said McFarland, 21. “If he can do it, I can do it.”
Watkins is pursuing a tour on the drill field to continue influencing Marines that will some day take a walk in his boots.