CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Sgt. Ryan M. Stites has always enjoyed his job as an amphibious assault mechanic and he hopes to share his passion with his Marines. Speaking from his experience, he has formed his own opinions on how to lead Marines. He applies his style of leadership at his new command, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
Q: What do you do at CLB-5?
A: “I’m the ordinance maintenance chief with Maintenance Detachment. I’m in charge of the ordinance section for the light armored assault vehicles, amphibious assault vehicles, tank mechanics, artillery mechanics, optics and armorers. I currently have only four Marines under me, but when the unit is fully staffed, we will have more.”
Q: Your unit, CLB-15, is slated to deploy next year with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Do you look forward to that?
A: “This is my first deployment on a MEU. I’m pretty excited. I requested to go on a MEU when I reenlisted. I’ll be able to do my job, while having various [military occupational specialties] underneath me. I’ll be able to learn a little bit more about their jobs and how they do things.”
Q: How long have you been a Sergeant of Marines, and what keeps you going?
A: “I picked up Sergeant on April of 2011. I just do my job to the best of my abilities and ensure the Marines are taken care of. This and the satisfaction I get from my job motivates me every day. I also have two children, which I need to provide for. I want my children to grow up and have a respectable father who served in the Marine Corps.”
Q: How do you lead your Marines?
A: “I practice a hands-off approach to leadership. I always learned by doing things myself, and it was how I was brought up at home and as a Marine. If a Marine needs help, I’ll provide guidance, but I let them figure it out. This way, they will learn first-hand instead of me just telling them, which they will forget later.”
Q: What leadership trait do you believe is most important?
A: “Dependability. This is important for my job field. When we work on a vehicle, we own it. If the Marines working on it are not dependable enough to get the job done correctly, the vehicle may not be safe when it is returned. It’s also important that I am dependable enough to provide the oversight so the job gets done right. If I’m not dependable, they won’t take my word and do what I tell them.”
Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about going into ordinance MOSs?
A: “The ordinance field is a good field to be in. I enjoy it, where else are you going to work on, what is essentially, a floating tank and be able to drive it?”
Q: When was the last time you recovered a vehicle?
A: “There was a bulldozer that caught on fire, which was helping contain the fires out on [Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Detachment Fallbrook]. It was creating firebreaks and ended up catching on fire. The driver made it out safely. We took the M88 [Recovery Vehicle] out there and loaded it up on a low-bed [trailer]. It was two of my Marines’ second recovery and they did a good job. It was a good practical application of their training. It’s something you don’t get to do every day.”
Stites, 26, grew up in the small town of Arcanum, Ohio. He continues to take the hands-off approach to leadership that he first developed from his family and apply it to instructing and developing his Marines. He looks forward to when his battalion attaches to the 15th MEU later this year.