MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Leadership is a characteristic familiar to Marines of all ranks. From day one at recruit training and beyond, Marines constantly work to become better leaders through formal instruction and real-world application both in garrison and on the battle field.
Each year the Marine Corps recognizes the efforts of outstanding Infantry Weapons Officers, known as Marine Gunners, by awarding the Gunner Henry Lewis Hulbert Trophy for Outstanding Leadership. This year, the Commandant of the Marine Corps recognized Chief Warrant Officer 3 James B. Archbell, Battalion Gunner of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division (MARDIV), as the winner for calendar year 2019, via All-Marine Message 005/20 released April 14, 2020.
The Hulbert Trophy is presented in memory of Medal of Honor recipient Marine Gunner Henry Lewis Hulbert, who was killed in action during the battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, France, on October 4, 1918. The award recognizes the Marine Gunner that most significantly contributed to the infantry community at the battalion level. It is an accolade representing a Marine Gunner’s commitment to the advocacy and advancement of not only his unit, but the infantry community as a whole. The name is significant in the Gunner community, as Henry Lewis Hulbert is believed to be the Marine Corps’ first gunner.
“The Hubert Trophy, to me, is the physical representation of a more experienced infantry man’s desire to teach, coach, mentor and pass along his skill sets to lesser experienced infantry men and make them better prepared to survive and succeed in modern combat,” said Archbell. “A Marine Gunner represents an infantryman that has not only mastered the infantry, but has also mastered how to develop training.”
In order to qualify for the trophy, a gunner must be nominated for actions performed while either a Chief Warrant Officer 2 or 3, according to Marine Administrative Message 579/19. The trophy is unique to Infantry Weapons Officers. Archbell feels the qualities required to earn the award are representative of what every infantry leader should aspire to be.
“Every infantry leader should take it as a personal responsibility to make sure his Marines are faster, smarter, more accurate, and more cunning than his peers in the adversary forces,” Archbell exclaimed. “That’s how units win battles and engagements.”
Archbell used his experience and expertise to construct a marksmanship plan to better prepare Marines conducting the Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) at Marine Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, CA. He identified a few areas that would translate to better prepared platoon-level leadership for modern combat. This involved additional training, to include reinforced day and night assaults.
“The community needed a better marksmanship program to survive combat,” he recalls. “After conducting all required marksmanship events, I helped make marksmanship an extremely important part of the unit’s work-up and to the individual Marines.”
Archbell also created new ways to use current training ranges on Camp Lejeune, in order to meet infantry-specific training requirements – methods which gave the battalion new opportunities to conduct training not normally possible.
“He was taking standard ranges and creating something that was new and safe,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joshua S. Smith, Gunner for 2d MARDIV. “We were able to meet training requirements in a different way.”
Receiving the award is no simple feat. There are approximately 104 Marine Gunners spread throughout the different levels of command, each of who start as rifle range gunners and have the potential to promote to the battalion level, and beyond, up to the most senior gunner at Headquarters Marine Corps. Receiving the award means effecting change to a magnitude noticeable across the Corps as a whole.
In terms of what goes into selecting the finalists, according to Smith, “You’re finding the one percent of the top 10 percent,” he said. “I was glad to see a 2d MARDIV guy selected for the trophy.”
Archbell will receive the award at the annual Ground Awards Dinner hosted by the Marine Corps Association and Foundation with a date to be announced in the future. Although Archbell understands the caliber of this award, to him, the trophy means more than just personal acclaim.
“I always felt that when the Marine Corps decided I was good enough to be commissioned I had a responsibility to transfer everything I had ever learned or experienced as an infantry small-unit leader to every infantryman that I ever ran across,” said Archbell. “Being selected as this year’s Gunner Hulbert award recipient is an extremely humbling event. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all the Marines that I had the privilege to lead in combat, and all the leaders that I was fortunate enough to serve with and under. I am who I am today because of those Marines.”