Service and Leadership with Marine Corps Lt. Col. Michael Feuquay
Published November 9, 2022
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Feuquay breaks down the core values of US Marines and the role they provide for America’s national security. The Marine Corps serves as America’s “911” force, prepared to fight in any place at any time. To be a Marine means to exemplify honor, courage, and commitment.
I’m Lieutenant Colonel Mike Feauquay, United States Marine.
I have served two different times in the Marine Corps. Looking back, I realize that on both occasions I was seeking self-purpose. I wanted the opportunity to serve something greater than myself. The first 4 years of service took place right after I graduated from high school. I was young and in need of direction. Fortunately, the Marine Corps was there to provide it.
After four years I separated because I wanted to go to college. I worked a few different jobs during and after college, but something was lacking. I missed the sense of purpose that serving offered and wanted to do something, in my mind, that not anybody could do. Once again, the Marine Corps was there to give me an opportunity.
I chose the Marine Corps because of the challenge, the belief that it was the best. Looking back, I think the Corps found me. A friend of mine gave his recruiter my name, as a potential enlistee, and the rest is history. When I rejoined again after college, I briefly considered the other services. Of course, each of them has a distinct and important mission and they all have my utmost respect. But the truth is, I struggled to see myself in a uniform without the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.
The Marine Corps’ guiding principle from an organizational standpoint, is to be ready when the nation is least ready. To serve as America’s 911 Force, prepared to fight in any climb or place. The Marine Corps has elements forward deployed at all times and they are organized as a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, or MAGTF. The MAGTF is a self-sustaining organization that can bring combined arms to bear. Due to its operational flexibility, the MAGTF is scalable to meet whatever the mission requires. This can range from major combat operations to countering violent extremists or providing humanitarian assistance or disaster relief at home or abroad.
For individual Marines, our Core Values are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. This means to exemplifying the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior, making tough decisions under stress and pressure, and being dedicated to Corps and country 24 hours a day.
I serve in the Financial Management field as a Comptroller for a major command. Essentially, my team of Marines serves as the Commanding General’s accountant. We work with command leadership to determine and fund their priorities in order to ensure they have everything they need to successfully accomplish their assigned mission. I am also responsible for ensuring all spending is in accordance with established fiscal law.
There are many misconceptions about the Marine Corps. Some say it is the service that accepts people who weren’t qualified for the other branches. Not true. The young men and women joining the Marine Corps each day are highly capable, intelligent, and patriotic.
Service is about leadership. Leadership is about getting a team of individuals to achieve an established goal. For me, it comes down to setting the example and having the courage to have the tough conversation. While we all make mistakes, my goal each day is to represent what right looks like. Do I know my job, do I give 100%, do I put the good of the Marine Corps first? If I am maintaining or exceeding the standard, I can then demand the same.
The Marine Corps has a storied history, and each of us serving today has an obligation to protect that legacy. It’s about selfless sacrifice; to be successful, you must be willing to put the needs of the Marine Corps first. As a leader, you must also put the well-being of your subordinates ahead of your own. They need you to be available and ready to support them.
Serving in a leadership role can be humbling. Some of your people will be talented in areas that perhaps you are not. Learning to leverage your team’s strengths, talents and experience will contribute to success. Encourage others to step up, challenge themselves, and grow. This means trusting them to accomplish the task, even if they don’t do it exactly the way you would have. You might be surprised by what they can accomplish. I believe the organization is stronger if all involved feel like they are important and contribute to the overall success.
If I could leave you with a few parting words, it would be work hard and take the time to enjoy the journey. Focus just a little less on the destination. It can be hard, but you don’t want to wake up after twenty years, wondering where the time went. Be willing to step up and make the tough decision and accept the fallout.