MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Among a crowd of more than 10,000 people, one is more likely to be lost within the sea of faces than to be singled out.
In any multitude, however, select individuals invariably outshine those around them, even when all are dressed in camouflage green.
Such was the case for Sgt. Aaron C. Torian, a 28-year-old Paducah, Ky., native who was named 2d Marine Division’s noncommissioned officer of the year for 2005.
Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, the division’s commanding general, presented the team leader with Company B, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, with a plaque and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal here Mar. 16. Huck congratulated Torian for serving as a role model to hundreds of NCOs throughout his infantry division.
This distinction recognizes Marines who excel in job performance, physical fitness and leadership skills, all traits Torian exhibited while participating in Operation Phantom Fury, the push through Fallujah, Iraq in late 2004.
Then a lance corporal, he said he worked around the clock, learning every weapon system to effectively lead his five-man unit through the insurgent-riddled streets.
“At one time, my CO (commanding officer) told me, ‘Hey, go to bed,’” stated Torian, explaining how his command took note of his hard work. “I had to run the team, I had to step up. I just figured that this is what I’d joined the Marine Corps to do, so I always did it 100 percent.”
From that point on his platoon sergeant labeled him as the “go-to guy” for his extensive knowledge and initiative and often entrusted him with managing many of the 23-man platoon’s affairs.
However, Torian said he never expected to receive the singular honor of Division NCO of the Year, even though he was promoted from lance corporal to sergeant in four months for his exemplary performance.
“I just got back from deployment in April, and I had no idea that I would get selected for this,” said the humbled Torian after receiving numerous congratulations from his troops, peers and leaders alike. “Being in 2nd Recon Battalion and preparing for another deployment, the last thing you think about is going up for meritorious boards and things like that.”
Torian said he enjoys passing what knowledge he can to his Marines, including life experiences he learned while obtaining his master’s degree in instructional leadership at Tennessee Tech University in 2003.
“Leaders building other leaders; that’s what the Marine Corps is all about,” he stated.
For now, Torian will continue preparing himself and his troops for another deployment to Iraq, cherishing his accomplishment as the highlighted NCO of the division.
“It feels great to be representing my unit,” he said. “It’s like representing my hometown, because here in Camp Lejeune, Recon Battalion is my hometown.”