MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
All Marines are familiar with the legend of Gunnery Sgt. Carlos N. Hathcock II. A renowned sniper known for his exploits in the Vietnam War, Hathcock would leave the Marine Corps a fundamentally improved institution in the grounds of rifle marksmanship. Today, those who strive to put the same effort in supporting marksmanship can be recipients of his legacy through the Gunnery Sgt. Carlos N. Hathcock II Award.
Gunnery Sgt. Robert V. Mendoza, company gunnery sergeant, Company B, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, is the most recent recipient of the award. It is one of several annually given to deserving service members, and is presented by the Marine Corps League. Nominations make their way to Headquarters Marine Corps, where Sgt. Maj. Michael P. Barrett, sergeant major of the Marine Corps, reviews and selects recipients.
Mendoza was selected as a result of his performance while serving as marksmanship training unit instructor and assault amphibian vehicle gunnery training coordinator for Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, from Feb. 25, 2013 to Jan.1, 2014.
“The gunnery, or weapons employment, for our military occupational specialty needed some updates,” Mendoza said. “I was the subject matter expert for our battalion and assisted in rewriting the doctrine to better educate the employment and effectiveness of gunnery.”
In doing so, Mendoza took a lead role in course of action development planning meetings, and made decisions and recommendations in the revision and application of training and readiness standards to improve proficiency within the assault amphibian field. He also directly contributed to the training of over 1,600 Marines in both rifle and pistol marksmanship training over 15 rifle range details, leading to a 98 percent qualification rate for which 68 percent of Marines earned expert rating. As a result, 2nd AAV Bn., was awarded the 2nd MarDiv “Follow Me” award for superior performance in marksmanship.
“I ensured the training ranges ran and that Marines were doing their required training to be qualified,” Mendoza said. “The biggest highlight was implementing new AAV training and readiness standards so Marines would become better educated on employment and tactics.”
The presentation of the award was hosted aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Sept. 24, 2014. Mendoza, along with other Marines and one sailor whom were fellow recipients of the 2014 Marine Corps League Enlisted Awards, were recognized by Sgt. Maj. Barrett and Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps. Following the ceremony, the recipients attended a formal dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City.
“Receiving the award was a privilege and an honor,” Mendoza said. “It was an exciting moment for me and for my family as well.”
Mendoza felt further honored knowing the award was named after such a distinctive Marine.
“Gunny Hathcock was an icon to the Marine Corps,” Mendoza said. “The award keeps the tradition 'every Marine a rifleman' alive.”
Mendoza's accomplishments make him a valuable asset to the task force, and one that is more than prepared to serve the unit through to the very end.
“Marines are Marines regardless,” Mendoza said. “If they put effort into everything the mission will get accomplished. As long as we train and hold them to a standard, we will see the results that we want to see at the end of our year together.”
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.