AL ASAD, Iraq -- A graduate of Texas Tech University, Cpl. Brian H. Walker enlisted in the Marine Corps in December 2003 to repay a personal obligation to the United States.
“We all have a debt to our country,” he said. “We all have to make a sacrifice for the freedoms we have and the lives we live. Some repay that debt by serving their country and others just take it for granted. I didn’t want to be one of those. As a Marine I can go on with my life with no regrets.”
An intelligence systems analyst with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4, Walker, from Houston, recently won the noncommissioned officer of the quarter board for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).
Quarterly boards stimulate competitive spirit among Marines and provide recognition and reward for those who demonstrate outstanding military leadership, appearance, job knowledge, and performance of duty.
To be selected for this honor Walker first faced keen competition in his squadron and won the squadron-level board. A few days later he competed against some of the finest noncommissioned officers in the entire Marine Aircraft Group 26 and won the group-level board. After competing against a handful of the best noncommissioned officers in the forward deployed wing he came out triumphant.
“After winning the squadron board I knew the competition was going to be good,” said Walker. “I actually thought I had lost the group board since my sergeant major didn’t tell anything until about an hour after it had ended. At no time I thought it would be a given, there are too many good Marines around for me to have thought that.”
And boards are something he’s familiar with. Walker won the noncommissioned officer of the quarter board in his squadron last October, and when he graduated basic training he competed in and took the honor graduate board, which earned him a meritorious promotion to the rank of lance corporal.
But even after earning all these accolades, he remains humble and acknowledges the assistance provided by others to get him where he is today.
“The [noncommissioned officers] in my shop helped me understand how the boards would be and what to look for,” said Walker, who’s currently carrying out anti-terrorism and force protection duties. “My fellow Marines on duty spent hours and hours helping me get ready.”
Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Wagner, from Fort Smith, Ark., is one of Walker’s friends from basic training and serves with Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, a squadron that’s also deployed here. By luck of the draw, Wagner and Walker met again.
As a coincidence, Wagner competed and won the Marine of the quarter board in his squadron. He and Walker helped each other prepare for the next boards and they advanced to and won the wing-level boards.
“Lance Corporal Wagner and I got all the knowledge we could find and had the goal to go as far as we could,” said Walker. “Whenever we were lifting weights we would quiz each other between sets.”
A college graduate with bachelor’s degrees in history and economics, Walker had the option to never have to worry about these types of boards. He could have joined the military as an officer, like two of his friends from high school.
Army Capts. Doug Adams and Sam F. Harms, who Walker said he admires, are Houstonians who graduated with him from Cypress Creek High School in 1996. When they were commissioned as Army officers Walker was still in college unsure of what he wanted to do with his life.
When his friends deployed to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terrorism he realized he wanted to serve in the armed forces.
“I felt like I couldn’t look them in the eyes and not feel like I wasn’t doing my part for our country,” said Walker, who joined the Corps as an enlisted Marine to gain knowledge and experience and plans to transition to the officer ranks.
“It’s said that to be a good leader first you have to follow,” he said. “I’ve earned the respect of the Marines and I’ve become a noncommissioned officer. It is an honor to be in the best fighting force in the world and if I’m lucky to become an officer that will help me out a lot.”
Walker said he’d like to serve as an infantry or intelligence officer but in the mean time he’ll continue to do his best supporting his squadron as an enlisted Marine.
“No matter what I do I want to continue to learn from the Marines around and above me,” he said. “I credit them with my growth from a selfish college student to a Marine.”