MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJUENE N.C. --
It has been said that the sergeant is the back bone of the Marine Corps. Holding true to that, Sgt. Derrick E. Keene, squad leader and assistant platoon sergeant keeps his Marines upright and on the road to success. Keene is responsible for 17 Marines and not only trains his Marines to be the best but also sets an example of what a squared away Marine should act like.
Originally from Shelburn, Ind., Keene said he knew at six-years old that he wanted to be a Marine.
“It’s kind of cheesy, but I saw a Marine commercial and knew,” said Keene, who has nine years in the Corps. “In sixth grade I asked my mom if I could go to military school. The Marines is the best of the best — I didn’t want to settle for less.”
As a sergeant with four deployments to Iraq and three-years experience as a combat instructor, Keene has the military experience to mentor the Marines of Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.
He currently has two of his Marines heading into a meritorious promotion board and is upgrading their martial arts levels to give them an edge over other Marines.
“He’s an inspirational leader and always looking out for us,” said Lance Cpl. Alexander Korst, one of the Marines up for the board in Truck Company. “He’s always encouraging me, telling me to take care of my Marine Corps education and pushing me to be the best Marine I can be.”
Recently, Keene, a brown-belt instructor, has worked with Korst to earn his next level MCMAP belt. Keene has goals of reaching staff sergeant by the end of the year and gunnery sergeant within another three. So far he has been on four meritorious boards and earned one meritorious promotion. He plans to retire from the Corps and enjoys seeing junior Marines step up and take charge.
“You have to use tact and stand toe to toe with that next rank,” said Keene. “Let them know just because it’s not on your collar doesn’t mean you can’t fill that position. It’s a ladder effect. If one person isn’t there, you have to be able to take that next step.”
Keene explains leadership can take place anywhere and by any rank.
“This morning I saw five to six lance corporals being corrected by a corporal for improper uniform wear. Afterwards a staff sergeant went over and thanked the corporal,” said Keene. “It makes me happy to see that.”