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Award named for pioneering Marine recognizes ‘unconventional thinking, combat leadership’

By Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command | June 23, 2020

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In May, Marine Corps Systems Command’s Logistics Combat Element Systems portfolio launched the Lt. Gen. “Brute” Krulak Award, recognizing a member of the portfolio each quarter who demonstrates a spirit of unconventional thinking, innovation and a preference for action.

“The purpose of this award is to incentivize great work within LCES,” said Col. John T. Gutierrez, MCSC’s portfolio manager for LCES. “We wanted to highlight Marines, Sailors, civilians and contractors within the portfolio for their hard work.”

LCES named the award after Lt. Gen. Victor “Brute” Krulak, a decorated Marine Corps officer who served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“Lt. Gen. Krulak was an unconventional thinker, innovator and combat leader who directly influenced the development of the iconic Higgins Boat that played a critical roles in the amphibious assaults in Europe and the Pacific,” said Marc Paquette, deputy portfolio manager for LCES. “This award recognizes an LCES team member who displays the characteristics demonstrative of Krulak’s philosophy and courage.”

In addition to influencing the Higgins Boat, Krulak also pioneered the use of helicopters to deliver troops and supplies into combat, which was eventually employed for the first time during the Korean War.

Recipients of the LCES award receive a copy of Krulak’s book, “First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps,” with a personal message from Gutierrez. Award winners will also receive a plaque, an MCSC coin and time off from work, as allowable.

Nomination process

During the nomination process, each LCES program manager nominates an individual they have worked with who demonstrates initiative, embraces bold humility, exhibits risk-taking, or showcases leadership and support as team member.

A committee comprising LCES leadership reviews the nominations and selects a winner during regularly held staff meetings. In the event of a tie, Gutierrez or Paquette provide the final vote.

Gutierrez planned to recognize each winner during a quarterly town hall. However, COVID-19 restrictions prevented the event from occurring. Until restrictions relax, LCES will hold a small award presentation for each winner in their Stafford, Virginia, office, while adhering to recommended social distancing guidelines.

“We want to publicly recognize our LCES personnel to highlight some of their accomplishments, no matter how big or small,” said Gutierrez.

The voting does not end there. At the conclusion of the fiscal year, LCES leadership will select an annual Brute Award winner. For this recognition, Gutierrez will consider the four quarterly winners as well as other deserving candidates within the portfolio.

LCES senior leadership will vote for the annual winner using the same process they did with the quarterly winners. The annual recipient will receive a signed copy of “Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine” by Robert Coram, dinner for two at The Clubs at Quantico aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, and a military or civilian award, as applicable.

Program analyst recognized for supporting training event

Ron Diefenbach, a program analyst for LCES, received the first Brute Award in May.

According to Gutierrez, Diefenbach displayed unconventional thinking and leadership for his diligent efforts in inserting the Littoral Explosive Ordnance Neutralization Family of Systems into the Type Commander Amphibious Training 20.2.

To begin fielding later this fiscal year, the LEON Family of Systems comprise four robots and other support equipment that will enable Explosive Ordnance Disposal units to conduct their missions and neutralize threats in the water and on the beach, securing freedom of movement for the Fleet Marine Forces.

TCAT served as an opportunity to employ and assess the robots. Held March 15-20 aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, TCAT was a weeklong event designed to increase naval integration and preparation for real-world contingency operations.

The event allowed MCSC to support 1st EOD Marines in conducting ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship counter-mine operations from the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship, the USS Carter Hall, and the Combat Rubber Raiding Craft.

MCSC was there to help evaluate the robots as part of the LEON Family of Systems. Diefenbach was responsible for ensuring LEON equipment was ready to support TCAT. However, getting all four robots to the event on time proved difficult.

MCSC is responsible for the procurement of the LEON systems, but the systems to be used during TCAT were procured by the Marine Corps Rapid Capabilities Office and owned by 1st EOD Company. The exception was the IVER3 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle, which is owned by MCSC’s Program Manager for Infantry Combat Equipment.

Prior to TCAT, PM ICE lent the Unmanned Underwater Vehicle to 1st Reconnaissance Battalion Marines for an evaluation event in Hawaii. Therefore, MCSC only had access to three of the four LEON systems.

“We had to retrieve the system from Hawaii and send it to Little Creek, Virginia, so we could load it on a ship and 1st EOD Marines could use it during TCAT 20.2,” said Diefenbach. “There was a lot of different moving pieces that had to occur to get the equipment [to TCAT].”

Diefenbach was tasked with getting the robot back from Hawaii, while also inspecting, signing for and transporting the system to Little Creek. He then coordinated with the USS Carter Hall to get the robot through pier security. He worked with 1st EOD Company and II MEF, the organizers of TCAT, throughout the process.

Because of Diefenbach’s efforts, the system was shipped from Hawaii to the East Coast in time for the event.

“Ron provided critical logistics support and provided continuous proactive solutions,” said CWO2 Trevor J. Hicks, an operations officer for 1st EOD Company. “Ron’s actions directly led to additional investment from both MEFs for not only the LEON project, but all the experimental C2 systems the Marines employed [during TCAT].”

Gutierrez applauded Diefenbach’s efforts in supporting TCAT.

“Ron has great attention to detail, and his attitude is never quitting,” said Gutierrez. “He found a way within regulations to do everything he needed to get the job done. He worked around obstacles and did not take no for an answer.”

Diefenbach was both surprised and excited by his Brute Award recognition. However, he was quick to note how he couldn’t have accomplished these tasks alone. He views the award as a team recognition rather than an individual one.

“[The Brute Award] shows that actions have meaning,” said Diefenbach. “It’s always good to recognize people for good work and let them know their effects are appreciated.”


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