Face of Defense: British NCO Trains Future Marine Leaders
By Marine Corps Cpl. Jahn R. Kuiper
The Quantico Sentry
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., Aug. 16, 2011 British Royal Marine Colour Sgt. Richy Asson strives to provide challenging, safe and proper training in his job as the physical training advisor at the U.S. Marine Officer Candidate School here.
British Royal Marine Colour Sergeant Richy Asson, the physical training advisor for the U.S. Marine Officer Candidate School at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Va., motivates candidates to run faster July 28, 2011. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jahn R. Kuiper
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Asson works directly with the commanding officer to decide the most effective and safest way for candidates to train, and he also oversees the U.S. Marine physical training instructors.
Few people know how a British Royal Marine earned the position where he helps train future American officers. It began in 1972, Asson said, when two high-ranking officers from OCS and the Royal Marines Commando Training Center in Devon, England, got together.
“The story goes that because the [U.S. Marine Corps] doesn’t have a [military specialty] that’s a physical training expert, the American officer asked us to send one of our physical training instructors to head up training here at OCS,” Asson said. “In exchange, they would send an infantry trained gunnery sergeant to be the advisor to one of our platoon commanders and help administrate one of our platoons of enlisted recruits going through the Royal Marines Commando Training Center. It was a classic ‘switcharoo.’”
After 20 years of service in the British Royal Marines, 15 of them as a physical training instructor, and after heading the physical training course at the Royal Marines Commando Training Center, Asson was told he would be making the trip across the pond in 2010.
Asson said he was delighted to be chosen.
“In our field, this is the most prestigious job, and I’m honored to be here,” he said. “This is the job everyone wants, because you get to come to America and be an advisor to the colonel, you’re pretty much on your own, and [you] get to run things how you see fit. And you get to help mold the candidates here at OCS.”
It’s important for the officer candidates to train safely, Asson said.
“I make sure the courses here are safe to train on. For example, if the obstacle course has ice on it, I’ll shut it down,” he said. “I make sure the candidates stay safe and see to it that the instructors conduct training properly.”
The leadership at OCS considers Asson’s role to be vital.
“The Marine Corps doesn’t have a physical training expert as a job, so the knowledge and experience he brings is crucial,” said Col. Rick Jackson, the OCS commanding officer. “He is the one that ensures the candidates are meeting the physical standards expected of our graduates and recommends if they are prepared for the rigors of the basic school.
“He is the duty expert,” the colonel continued, “and without him we would really just be guessing on what the best training would be. Just like a battalion has a gunner as a weapons expert, he is our expert, and I consult with him on all physical training matters.”
But this wasn’t only a commitment for the colour sergeant, but also for his wife and famil,y who came to America with him on the two-year tour.
“I have my wife, Nickey, and my 13-year-old twins, Billy and Megan, here with me,” Asson said. “It was hard, especially for the twins, to adjust with school and all, but now they all are really enjoying being here in America.”
Asson said he strives to excel at his mission at OCS.
“I always make sure I give 100 percent and give a good showing of myself,” Asson said. “If I drop my standard, it looks bad on not only OCS but also the Royal Marines. I’m the only one here, so I must give my all to maintain the image of my service. I approach my mission here with the utmost importance.”