MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Cpl. Kevin L. Palmer is an administrative specialist from Highland, California. He is a third generation Marine experienced as a combat marksmanship coach and instructor, with a knack for off-road sports.
Palmer is currently doing his part to ensure all administrative matters with GCEITF are taken care of so that the focus of Marines and sailors can be on the long training cycle ahead. However, his abilities are not limited to that field given his additional designations as a marksmanship instructor and marksmanship coach.
“At my old command, I was able to teach other Marines, such as squad leaders, basic combat marksmanship coach fundamentals,” Palmer said. “It wasn't just a valuable training experience for me; I was giving more back to the Marine Corps.”
At Marine Corps Security Force Regiment in Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Virginia, Palmer served as an administrative clerk. But, he also was trained and on call for any security alerts that came up.
From that unique experience, Palmer came to the GCEITF, where he deals with much more than the standard administrative workload.
While most regular Marine Corps units may see a few Marines checking in at the same time, the Task Force has seen large groups of Marines checking in day after day as the GCEITF grows by leaps and bounds.
Now, he attributes his perspective on the mission of the task force to a saying introduced to him by an old company gunnery sergeant.
“Adversity introduces a man to himself,” Palmer said. “Those are words that I live by. Significant adversity in anyone’s life opens their eyes to bigger and brighter issues.”
A firm believer in baptism by fire, Palmer believes in learning for himself, and reaping the rewards that accompany perseverance. The GCEITF is no exception to making this method of thinking applicable.
“(The Corps) is an institution that allows Marines to run as far as they want with a lot of tools,” Palmer said. “It has given me tools and allowed me to be a better Marine, a better husband, and a better contributing member of society.”
A thirst for adventure was one of the things that drove Palmer to the Marine Corps. He finally made his decision to join following years of influence by his grandfather, a reconnaissance Marine who served in the Vietnam War, and his uncle, an infantryman that saw service in Operation Desert Storm.
“I saw the Marine Corps as a very effective institution,” Palmer said. “I wanted to emulate how my grandpa and uncle held themselves.”
Palmer would eventually seize the opportunity to become one of the few, but not before experiencing an early life that was on the move.
“I did a lot of traveling at a young age,” Palmer said. “In 2000, my family settled in Highland, California. For us, it was new city with a lot of new places and people.”
During his adolescence, Palmer found an adrenaline rush through off-road biking in the vast, open country of San Bernardino, California.
“I owned a Suzuki racing model 250,” Palmer said. “With that, I used to go to Twentynine Palms, Ocotillo Wells, any of the best places in Southern California for off-roading.”
Palmer enjoyed his run throughout the region, even when he sustained an injury.
“I was hitting kickers, which are a series of small jumps, all while going a speed faster than I should have,” Palmer said. “When I tried to jump the last kicker, I ended up pushing down on my bike too late and got the front tire caught in between a rift of kickers.”
Palmer met a punishing collision with the ground, one that left him with a decade-old scar.
“I flew at least 10 yards off of my bike, with my body twisting in the air,” Palmer said. “The ground went right through my gear and scarred me down to the bone.”
Relatively unfazed by the incident, Palmer continued to take advantage of his location and tried his hand at snowboarding in Big Bear, California.
“Snowboarding out (in Big Bear) is always a good time,” Palmer said. “Goggles are the real key part there; when you’re going down you can barely keep eyes open, and I’ve seen boarders bail all of the time because they couldn’t see where they were going.”
He recalls a memorable snowboarding session involving the use of a radar gun.
“We used the radar gun on a slope called Miracle Mile,” Palmer said. “It starts at the peak and goes to the bottom where the lift to come back up is. When I went down, I was clocked in at 63 miles per hour.”
The, was Palmer’s command prior to joining the GCEITF. His arrival was the result of a hasty effort to re-enlist in the Marine Corps. Having initially missed the deadline for re-enlistment, it was his package in the Qualified Marine Incentive program that allowed him to continue his duties.
“I loved the Marine Corps and didn’t want to get out,” Palmer said. “When I re-enlisted, I requested any command in (Marine Corps Base) Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.”
Now, as the non-commisoned officer in charge of the administration section of the GCEITF, he's doing his part to ensure the command is ready for their arduous training cycle.
From October 2014 to July 2015, the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force will conduct individual and collective skills training in designated combat arms occupational specialties in order to facilitate the standards based assessment of the physical performance of Marines in a simulated operating environment performing specific ground combat arms tasks.