Face of Defense: Marine Cites Pride in Service
By Marine Corps Pfc. David Flynn
Marine Corps Recruiting Command
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., Oct. 8, 2010 A well-traveled Marine Corps officer based here said he is proud of his years of service and thankful that his father had talked him into joining the Corps.
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rex Sappenfield, the assistant chief of staff of administration, Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Quantico, Va., is joined by his father, Dale Sappenfield, a former Marine officer, during his promotion ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Va., Sept. 3, 2010. Sappenfield joined the Marine Corps after his father, a Marine during the 1950s, surprised him with a recruiter one day after high school. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. David Flynn
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“Serving your country is a great endeavor,” said Lt. Col. Rex Sappenfield, the assistant chief of staff for administration, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “It’s an endeavor that if undertaken ought to be done in the best service, which is the Marine Corps.”
Sappenfield has served in the Marine Corps for 24 years as an enlisted infantryman and an administrative officer. He was a high school student in Los Alamos, N.M., when he came home from school one day to find a recruiter in the living room with his parents.
“I was nervous,” Sappenfield recalled, noting the recruiter’s visit had been arranged by his father, Dale Sappenfield, a Marine officer who’d served as a communications officer in Japan during the 1950s.
Sappenfield’s three older brothers, he said, did not join the Marine Corps and he was his father’s last chance to have a son join the Corps.
“I signed up that day. I was an easy one for that recruiter,” he said.
Sappenfield arrived at boot camp Sept. 12, 1986, beginning his Marine Corps career. As an enlisted Marine, he initially served as an infantry rifleman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Being an infantryman “required a lot of endurance and patience,” Sappenfield said. “It was a pretty challenging job, physically and mentally.” Sappenfield attained the rank of corporal and was a fire team leader. A fire team is usually a four man unit consisting of a rifleman, a machine gunner, an assistant machine gunner and the team leader.
“Overall, it was a pretty rewarding experience,” Sappenfield said of his time in the infantry.
Later, Sappenfield learned of an opportunity that would enable him to expand his education and become an officer.
“When I was a corporal with 1st Bn., 8th Marines, one of my platoon commanders was a Citadel graduate,” Sappenfield recalled. “I respected him immensely and after he talked to me about the benefits of the institution, it was an easy choice.”
At the end of Sappenfield’s enlistment, he became a student at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, S.C. Sappenfield earned a bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis on English. Upon graduation he received his commission as a second lieutenant on May 25, 1994.
Though not a teacher, Sappenfield said he still uses his teaching degree. “I am passionate about teaching and mentoring young people,” he said.
Sappenfield’s pursuit of education did not stop at The Citadel.
“I earned a master’s degree in human resource development from Webster University when I was a lieutenant,” Sappenfield said, noting he has instructed newly commissioned Marine officers attending the Basic School here.
According to Sappenfield, being a prior enlisted Marine gives him an understanding of the enlisted Marines he serves with now.
“It gives me a perspective of what junior Marines go through on an everyday basis. I have a better perspective of what their concerns are,” he said.
Sappenfield said he has seen the world in the Marine Corps, having been stationed in South Korea, Hawaii, and Afghanistan.
Currently Sappenfield is the manpower officer responsible for staffing and meeting the administrative requirements for the recruiting command.
“There’s a lot of writing involved in being an administrative officer, so the English degree helps tremendously,” Sappenfield said. “The human resource degree is essential for the human resource management of the command, ensuring the human resource demands are fulfilled to accomplish our mission.”
Sappenfield said it is the enjoyment of being a Marine that has kept him charging forward for the past 24 years.
“I thoroughly enjoy what I do,” he said. “Being a Marine is a very satisfying job. It’s a tremendous honor to be a Marine Corps officer.