MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJUENE N.C. --
His infectious laugh draws Marines to him, but it’s his knowledge they follow. During a mortarman’s class, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey W. Kilt can be seen talking and getting to know unfamiliar service members in his class.
His jokester personality however, should not be confused with his work ethic. During a Infantry Mortar Leaders Course Kilt finished with the second highest grade point average in a class of 36 Marines – second by less than a percent.
Kilt doesn’t look like the Marine in TV commercials – he’s not a bodybuilder, but he is physically fit. His hair is not short, but is well maintained. He does not magically transform into dress blues after climbing the side of a mountain, however he is a hard worker and a leader of Marines.
During a deployment with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, junior Marines followed Kilt while patrolling in Afghanistan.
“I looked up to him when I first got to the unit, during the deployment and I still look up to him,” said Lance Cpl. Eric Poy, squad leader, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division. “He has a different way of thinking. When I did something wrong, he would teach me – not scold me. I definitely appreciated that during the deployment.”
At 27 years old, Kilt, a 60mm mortarman and squad leader for 3/8, is older than many of his fellow Marines. Kilt said joining at a later age has probably been a contributing factor to why he was quickly selected as a squad leader.
“Being the old man in the platoon is something else,” said Kilt. “You definitely catch a lot of flack about it. There are 19, 20 year-old guys holding the same job. You have to step up and show that you can do the same job if not better. It’s fun though and it’s a good time.”
Though Kilt has only been home a few months from deployment, he has already opted for advanced training to help him for future operations.
In the IMLC course, Kilt and other mortarman practiced skills like land navigation, advance fire direction, and familiarization with the 81mm and 121mm mortar system.
“The primary basis of the course is fire direction,” said Kilt. “When you’re shooting at 4,000 meters, it’s a little bit hard to be accurate. This course hones your skills.”
While supervising the nine-week course, Sgt. Timothy D. Hardy, the class commander, has been able to see Kilt’s character.
“He likes to laugh, but when it comes down to it he knows his job and gets to it,” said Hardy. “He’s smart. We know if we need anything done he can do it.”
Most of Kilt’s goals in the Marine Corps are characteristic to excelling Marines, which include working for meritorious promotion and earning more responsibility.
“Hopefully this article helps toward meritorious promotion,” Kilt said with a laugh.
Down the line Kilt would like to make something that describes his experiences in the Marine Corps.
“One day I’d like to make a Marine cartoon strip,” said the Syracuse, N.Y native. “My roommate and I started recording our humorous conversations about a year and half ago. The idea is make something artsy, something funny on everything that happens in day to day infantry life.”