For nearly 231 years, the Marine Corps has been engaged in some of the bloodiest battles in history. However, not all battles are fought on far away shores against an organized enemy.
One battle that the Marine Corps wages every day, of every week, of every month, of every year, requires no weapons or massive troop movements. This battle is fought in every state across the country, in towns with populations from 20 to millions. The goal is not victory over a militarized enemy, but victory in maintaining the health and stability of the Marine Corps by filling its ranks with highly qualified individuals.
During fiscal year 2006, one recruiter in the 9th Marine Corps District took his battle recognition without looking back.
Sgt. Shadrack R. Harper, from Permanent Contact Station Dekalb, Recruiting Substation Rockford, Recruiting Station Milwaukee, earned the title of 9th MCD Recruiter of the Year. The 26-year-old said his stepfather cultured him to join the Marine Corps.
“He was in the Air Force and he knew the Air Force wouldn’t be challenging enough for me,” said the Maricopa, Minn., native.
Harper enlisted into the Marine Corps Sept. 9, 1998. He then served in Okinawa, Japan, with Combat Engineer Company; in Quantico, Va., with Guadalcanal Maintenance; and at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371.
Then he volunteered for the challenge of recruiting duty.
Working the area of PCS Dekalb in northwestern Illinois was almost like going home to Minnesota for the small-town native. His recruiting area is a large rural area comprised solely of small towns, which helped Harper feel more comfortable than if he were assigned to a major metropolitan city.
“He is able to relate to kids and talk to them at their level,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jeremy J. Cain, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of RSS Rockford. “He is down to earth and easily acts like himself.”
Cain has worked with Harper since April 2005, when Harper checked in to the command. At the time, Cain was another recruiter at the station. He said at first Harper struggled a little when it came to talking with parents and larger high school classes. As Harper became more relaxed with the applicants, he started to become more proficient at talking with the parents and at high schools. Now his ability to speak to students and build rapport with parents is one of the many reasons for his success.
Another key to his success is his strong pool program, said Cain. Out of more than 50 contracts, Cain said many of those contracts were the result of referrals from those in his Delayed Entry Program.
But Harper’s success on the job has not been without sacrifice.
“This has been very hard for us,” said his wife of nearly six years, Lee Anne. “He puts in a lot of hours and he is never home. But over the summer he would take us all out fishing on Sundays that he didn’t have to work. This helped make up for some of the lost time.”
His wife explained that she understands the reason for the long hours and is proud of his accomplishments. After nearly a year-and-a-half, Harper has earned various station-level awards on a nearly monthly basis.
“He keeps his foot on the gas and is always trying to get people on deck,” Cain said. “He never gives up.”
Harper said he was surprised when he was told about the award. Cain said that Harper is not out trying to win awards. “He is just doing his job,” said Cain.
With an APR of 2.56 and his current title earned, Harper has set two specific goals for himself: He wants to earn the Centurion Award for writing 100 contracts, and to write 10 contracts in a month.
With his tour on recruiting duty nearly half over and some major goals ahead of him, Harper is looking forward to the second half of his duty and reaching his goals.
“Time flies out here,” said Harper. “Every month is like a new year, and I am having a blast.”