The Marine Corps' Corporals Course was conducted for the first time at Headquarters & Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall on March 7.

Eight Marines completed a difficult course of instruction, having received training in subjects such as leadership, physical fitness, history of the noncommissioned officer, hip pocket training, sword manual, guidon manual, patrolling, hand and arm signals as well as counseling and mentoring subordinate Marines.

The training is designed to enhance junior Marines' leadership and professional knowledge in preparation for assuming duties of greater responsibility and making a greater contribution to the Marine Corps.

The course included guest speaker director Sgt. Maj. Joseph M. Davenport, instructor Lawrence G. Ward, a retired first lieutenant, and a visit from the Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent.

''Corporals and sergeants were the only two people you were allowed to converse with," explained Ward in a lecture, providing a historical overview of the service. ''Staff sergeants walked on water."

Kent stopped by the sword manual practice at the physical training field March 18.

''NCOs are truly the backbone of the Corps. If you look around at the embassies, warriors in combat or look at warriors anywhere in the world, notice it's the NCOs who are leading the fight. You are truly the key," said Kent observing practice.

The corporals course instructors, chief instructor Sgt. Nelson Blanco and Sgt. Chris Cravens, Sgt. Kenneth Lindsey, Sgt. Ron Hines and Sgt. Juan Deluna, developed the course using the same standards as the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Quantico Marine Corps Base.

''We came up with the course on our own," said Blanco. ''We got everything from the staff academy, which helped us out a lot. It has been a good experience for us."

A favorite of those attending the Corporals Course is the sword manual training.

''Sword manual teaches a Marine how to handle a sword, how to present our swords as NCOs and teaches us discipline, teaches us how to do something the proper way," said graduate Cpl. Jarred Disney, a motor transportation operator.

''I loved the sword manual. I'm a non-NCO; to carry around a sword, as a lance corporal is unheard of," he said. ''I'm not even supposed to have that sword. I'm able to carry it around and learn all the moves with it. It's fantastic."

''The course taught me how to be a great leader, how to get Marines to follow you the right way," said graduate Cpl. Mark Schlaff II, the audits NCO for HQMC Consolidated Administration and class honor graduate.

''The course was very, very demanding and competitive - and challenging," said graduate Cpl. Mindy Lobecker, congressional liaison representative for Office of Legal Executive Affairs of the Active Reserve program. ''I think that every active reservist should take it. It maintains our competitive edge with the active duty."

''In the words of Cravens it was phenomenal." said instructor Blanco.

''It was an awesome course. It was a pleasure and an honor to have the opportunity to teach junior Marines."

''Of the 279 Marines who earned the Medal of Honor, the first and the last were corporals," Davenport said. ''Look on your sleeve, blood has been shed, tears have been shed and an honor has been bestowed for you to wear that rank. Don't ever think you're just a corporal. God bless you. Semper Fi."

The other Marines who graduated from the corporals course March 24 at the Joe Rosenthal Theater include: Lance Cpl. Hugo Carazasvaler, distribution manager specialist; Cpl. Sonja Grigsby, company office clerk (and class leader); Cpl. Orgaise Joseph, consolidated administration clerk, Lance Cpl. Todd C. Knight, Combat Camera production specialist; and Cpl. Orlando Munoz, operations NCO for administrative resources information.