MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
After two years of community college and working for UPS Inc., Jonathan Ferguson desired something greater; a challenge beyond the norm.
The challenge: joining the United States Marine Corps.
“I knew it was time for something bigger,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan Ferguson, the Corporal’s Course director aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., and a Dayton, Ohio, native. “I wanted to get out of Ohio and the Marine Corps was a sure bet for travel and adventure.”
Traveling is exactly what he did. Over the past 12 years, Ferguson has been a part of four different commands across the nation. Each of these commands exposed him to different aspects of the Corps’ capabilities.
He spent his first five years as a motor transportation mechanic with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
As a sergeant, Ferguson volunteered to become a drill instructor. After graduating drill instructor school he joined Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
Ferguson believed in his ability to teach the newest generations of Marines, not only from his formal training, but from his experiences as well.
“Being in an infantry battalion, I was able to hone my skills in a sense of leadership and other intangibles that most other Marines can’t get anywhere else,” said Ferguson. “Yes, I was accustomed to working on trucks, but I was also accustomed to dealing with Marines and being in an authoritative role with responsibilities.”
The newly indoctrinated drill instructor saw the chance to grow in his own abilities and make a difference in the Marine Corps.
“A lot of drill instructors will tell you that they were one of the best in their unit, ‘water-walkers,’ if you will,” said Ferguson. “When you get to drill instructor school you realize that you’re surrounded by the top 10 percent of the Marine Corps. When I went, there was no hit list for it. You wanted to be down there. To go there as a young sergeant and to be surrounded by so many driven sergeants and staff [non-commissioned officers] made me want to rise to the occasion.”
Serving aboard the depot taught him that he had to be first, he had to be better and that his recruits had to be better than the others.
“Ferguson and I were drill instructors together from 2005 to 2008,” said 1st Sgt. Damien Coan, company first sergeant for India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, MCRD San Diego. “He was an excellent drill instructor and one that I tried to keep up with while we wore ‘green belts.’ He was one of those drill instructors who set the bar high and kept everyone, drill instructors and recruits, performing at a high level.”
During his tour as a drill instructor he helped train, mentor and induct eight platoons, approximately 590 Marines, into the Marine Corps.
Throughout long days and nights, relentless screaming and the constant rigors of recruit training; Ferguson saw the reasoning behind it all.
“As you begin to progress through the billets from fourth hat up, you start to truly understand why it takes so many hours,” said Ferguson. “You begin to take ownership of that platoon and you realize that you’re playing a pivotal role in mentoring these young men in their lives. You want to be a part of that, you don’t want to be at home, you don’t want to be away from them, because you only have them for 90 days and you don’t want to cheat them of that experience.”
It isn’t about the drill instructor; it’s about the recruit, explained Ferguson.
“Every so often I come across one of them or get an e-mail and it’s powerful,” said Ferguson. “When I was a staff sergeant with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, I ran into one of my former recruits. He was a sergeant, and he told me that he wanted to be a drill instructor and that he still remembered what I taught him. That has a powerful effect.”
After a brief time with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, out of MCB Camp Pendleton Ferguson came to MCAS Miramar, home of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“It’s been an eye-opener for me,” said Ferguson. “I was able to cross the spectrum of all of the big three, from division to group then to the air wing. It was eye opening for me, because this is my first time with an air wing and working in a base unit. So getting to do two-in-one is a different experience for me.”
Even though this new experience might seem a little daunting to some, Ferguson welcomes it with open arms.
“I’ve enjoyed it, this has opened my eyes to a whole different world of how the Marine Corps works and how the [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] comes in to play,” said Ferguson. “At the same time, getting to see how Brig Marines, the Provost Marshal’s office, administrative Marines and other supporting elements keep the installation running has been a good experience for me as well.”
What makes Ferguson a great Marine is not simply being proficient in his duties, but going above and beyond the call of his duties.
“Gunnery Sgt. Ferguson is a great Marine,” said Coan. “He is not a Marine from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. He is a Marine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He is the definition of ‘leadership by example,’ and he is one of the finest staff NCOs I have had the privilege to serve with. Ferguson has continued to set the finest example for Marines of all ranks to emulate.”