CAMP LEATHERNECK, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN --
It is a badge of honor placed carefully and precisely above the left breast pocket that reads “Fleet Marine Force.” It symbolizes the extra mile some sailors serving alongside Marines go through to secure the right to wear the eagle, globe and anchor. Like the title of Marine, the Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer insignia is earned, never given.
Atlanta native Navy Lt. John Securda earned his FMFQO insignia recently by successfully completing the necessary requirements to wear the badge proudly.
Securda is an information operations planner who deployed with 1st Marine Division (Forward) and will now continue to serve with 2nd MarDiv (Fwd). It’s his first deployment of his eight-year career with the Navy reserves.
“I was exceptionally lucky to be attached to 1st MarDiv (Fwd) because it gave me the opportunity to work alongside Marines,” explained the Georgia Institute of Technology graduate. “It’s an experience that allowed me to see how they operate and what makes them so great.”
He said their Corps’ level of commitment is unsurpassed, and he’s met a lot of good Marines out here. Working alongside them gave Securda an opportunity to participate in the FMFQO program, as sailors must serve for at least one year in a Marine Corps command to qualify.
Several challenges awaited the sailor as he faced his opportunity for the qualification to include a six-mile hike, passing the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test, completing a written test, and an oral board conducted by FMF-qualified officers, all of which Securda had to accomplish on his own time.
“It was all just a fun experience,” said Securda with a grin. “It’s great to learn the logistics of everything and know why and how things work in the Marine Corps.”
Securda said he took advantage of the opportunity because it was another means of standing out amongst his peers. The challenge was there, and the sailor went for it.
“It’s a very prominent and rewarding feeling when an officer earns the insignia,” said Navy Capt. Jeff Robinson, the information operations officer for 1st MarDiv (Fwd) and a Baton Rouge, La., native. “When the board says you passed the qualifications, they’re basically saying that they are comfortable and confident in your knowledge of the Marine Corps.”
Although Securda completed the program, he admits a lot of it was no easy task. Numerous challenges forced him to seek help from outside sources, which he said he considered an opportunity to meet new people. When he struggled with the aviation part of the study material, for example, Securda met with aviation Marines and was able to learn more about it from them. When he had trouble with the logistics section, he went over to the logistics office and found help.
“I’m not a logistics guy at all, no background there at all,” Securda explained. “It was around 10 o’clock at night and I literally walked into the [logistics office] and asked the Marines there about a ‘landing force work party.’”
Now, when Securda returns home to Atlanta, he can walk taller knowing that he earned the right to wear the gold, highly polished, eagle, globe and anchor atop two crossed rifles on a background of ocean swells breaking on a sandy beach with a scroll depicting the words "Fleet Marine Force" on his chest.