Twenty-six years ago, Mark Erhart, a Bemidji (Minn.) High School All-State baseball, football and wrestling champion, left his tiny, historically charming hometown, to join the Marines. On his journey, he took with him his strong Minnesotan sense of community and team mentality.
Today, Master Gunnery Sgt. Erhart coaches others on how to enlist young men and women into the Marine Corps team. While holding his current job as the 9th Marine Corps District Contact Team Chief, he was recently selected as Head of the Marine Corps’ National Recruiter Training Team, to oversee enlisted Marine Corps recruiter training for the nation. He will leave the 9th MCD where he has worked for the past 20 years, and go to Marine Corps Recruiting Command, in Quantico, Va.
Although Erhart isn’t new to recruiting, he continues to learn how to improve recruiting from the very people he teaches.
“Teaching isn’t about him,” said Master Sgt. Edward A. Minton, Recruiting Station St. Louis recruiter instructor, who’s worked with Erhart for six years. “He’ll get suggestions from others, the strong and the not so strong recruiters, on how to do things. He then makes his decisions derived from three to four sources. It’s about what’s best for everyone.”
According to 50-year veteran wrestler and coach, William A. Welker, author of more than 500 articles on the art and science of wrestling, drills are the most effective practice activities to use to ingrain the instinctive actions and reactions essential for wrestling success. Similarly, Erhart’s recruiting philosophy is to practice until the student can fully accomplish the task.
“I make sure (recruiters) fully understand what I expect from them by using the PESOS system: preparing, explaining, showing, observing and supervising.”
Erhart said the successful training philosophy of 9th MCD is based in the reinforcement of the basics of the Guidebook for Recruiters, Volumes 1-3, and 5.
His teaching philosophy also includes leading by example. For the past three years, he has traveled three weeks out of each month, and has just returned home for the first full week in nearly five months.
“He’s not a desk kind of guy,” said Minton. “He’s in the trenches 95 percent of the time practicing with the recruiters on the basics.”
Erhart said the most important thing a recruiter must possess to become successful is belief in oneself, belief in (the Marine Corps), and motivation.
Erhart’s recruiting career began at Recruiting Station St. Cloud, Minn., where he earned the title of Centurion (writing 100 contracts) within two years. After his initial success, he determined he found his niche in life and became a career recruiter.
Ultimately, Erhart would like to improve every level of recruiting, to make the recruiter’s job easier, and improve the quality of life for these Marines and their families.
He plans to accomplish these goals by devising a way in which both the Western and Eastern Recruiting Regions can follow the exact same programs in order “to work and perform on the same playing field.” By doing so, recruiters can transition easier within regions. He plans to accomplish this by rewriting and updating recruiting operating and teaching procedures in order to make them uniform.
But he’ll make sure it’s a team effort.