First Sgt. David Compton doesn’t think he does anything extraordinary on the job, but those who know him disagree.
The senior enlisted adviser for Marine Corps Detachment Newport, R.I., is the unit’s family readiness officer, a position he established upon joining the unit. The job seems like a natural fit, considering the continued contact Compton keeps with Marines and sailors from a previous unit who deployed alongside him to Afghanistan in 2010. “After a long deployment, he stayed in contact with members of the team that had a more difficult time in combat,” his boss of three years, Maj. Marcus Reynolds, wrote in his recommending Compton for Marine Corps Times’ Marine of the Year. The takeaway: He truly cares about others’ well-being.
During that deployment, Compton worked with Afghan security forces and imparted lessons learned over his 18-year career.
“They had very little experience; they were a new unit,” he said. “They responded very well. They really liked the fact that I was taking the time to learn a little bit about their culture and tried to benefit them and help them out.”
Compton has gathered a group of Marines from his command to assist with Homes for Our Troops, which built a new house for a local wounded Marine and his family. He also plans cookouts and other events for his Marines to keep their morale high.
In his off time, Compton earned a bachelor’s degree in history, and he and his wife, Cinthia, raise three children. She cited among his best qualities the ability to maintain a great family life even throughout his deployments. Compton said balancing military service and family is a top priority.
“If you’re happy at home, you’re going to be happy at work, and vice versa,” Compton said. “You’ve got to keep a healthy balance to that and not ignore one or the other. You have to have a productive environment on both sides.”
Master Sgt. Julius Spain Sr. is getting the enlisted Marines’ message out to those in Washington, and he takes a lot of pride in doing so. Officers have historically been the ones to represent service members on Capitol Hill, so serving as an enlisted legislative fellow provides a unique and important perspective, especially following a decade of combat. And it’s a duty Spain, a South Carolina native, called one of the highlights of his 22 years in the Marine Corps.
During a 12-month tour in the Senate serving as the defense legislative fellow for Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Spain was consulted often.
“I know firsthand what some of our junior Marines and their families are going through, because I’ve been there and done that,” Spain said. “With me being on the Hill, it lets their voices be heard.”
Lt. Col. Marcus Hewett and Capt. Neville Welch nominated Spain to be Marine Corps Times’ Marine of the Year not only because of his professional accomplishments, but because of his off-duty devotion to volunteering, especially with local youth.
“He is widely known for organizing several community service activities,” Welch wrote in his nomination, adding that Spain is sought out as a mentor.
All Marines should be well-balanced, in the military and out in the community, Spain said.
“I have an appreciation for giving back to the community; it’s just how I was brought up,” he said. “I try to teach [the kids] to better themselves when it comes to education to do more than just the bare minimum.”
Spain is up for promotion to master gunnery sergeant this summer and has been selected to assume the position of senior enlisted adviser for the Marine Corps Office of Legislative Affairs.