By Jason CutshawMay 24, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama - When training with "Devil Dogs," Soldiers sometimes go "Gung Ho."
Spc. Brent Ching, a satellite communications controller with Company E, 53rd Signal Battalion, recently graduated from the Marine Corps Lance Corporal's Course at Camp Foster, Okinawa, where he received the "Gung Ho" award, the Marine Corps equivalent of honor graduate.
"Going through the course with the Marines was a great learning experience being able to interact with another branch of service," Ching said. "It was an opportunity to do something outside of the normal day-to-day that I feel will help me be a better and well-rounded Soldier."
Ching is the second attendee of the course from his company and the first Soldier to ever be awarded this distinction in Okinawa.
During the course, Ching trained as a Marine and was held to the same standards and expectations. Aside from having his uniforms inspected by Marines to Army regulations, he participated in Marine physical training, or PT, which included a 3-mile run, pullups and crunches.
"A highlight of the course was the instruction portion not being presentation-based, i.e. PowerPoint," Ching said. "The course was led as a Socratic Seminar, focusing on small and large group discussions based around the philosophy and ethics of leadership.
"Another highlight was an external evaluation of the physical fitness via the Marine PT test," he added. "Having an alternate evaluation to the Army Physical Fitness Test was beneficial to my own physical training."
Ching then explained how the course differs from Army courses he has attended.
"Army mandatory courses tend to focus more on classroom instruction and checks on learning rather than active discussions," Ching said. "This course focused more on discussions following the instruction. This allowed class members to compartmentalize and troubleshoot the actual intent of the instruction provided. The class was enjoyable and developed me as a person and leader.
"Also, having an outside evaluation agency for a PT test was also very beneficial to maintain standards and discipline in physical strength and form," he added.
He said his classmates showed him respect after he received the award and that there are benefits of training with members of the other military branches.
"There seemed to a bit of animosity between outside Marines agreeing or disagreeing with whether or not an Army Soldier should be allowed to win the Gung-ho award," Ching said. "However, I did not feel any of that animosity from my classmates and am very proud for what I've accomplished during this experience.
"I would encourage others to take any opportunities to train and work with our brother and sister services," he added. "It is an excellent opportunity to broaden horizons, at a personal level, as well as build interpersonal relationships between the branches, strengthening the entire U.S. military core."