MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Sgt. Maj. William Sowers has seen a lot throughout his 23-year career in the Marine Corps, from the time he stepped on the yellow footprints, to his current assignment as the regimental sergeant major for Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
With eight deployments under his belt, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Okinawa and afloat, and having completed two tours on the drill field, Sowers’ breadth of experience and leadership continues to help shape future generations of Marines.
Sowers, 40, from Stuart, Va., began his career in October 1988 when he attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. After recruit training, he went on to graduate from the School of Infantry and received orders to Scout Platoon, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he spent four years as an anti-tank assault man. During that time, Sowers participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a forward observer for the company.
In 1997, Sowers became a drill instructor aboard MCRD Parris Island where he helped transform raw recruits into U.S. Marines. While on the drill field, he was meritoriously promoted to gunnery sergeant, and after a successful tour, he received orders to 2nd MarDiv.
In December 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Sowers deployed to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served as the company gunnery sergeant of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd MarDiv.
While with 3/8, he was selected to first sergeant and recieved orders to the drill field again, this time at MCRD San Diego as the company first sergeant for Company E, 2nd Battalion where he achieved his current rank of sergeant major and was assigned as the 1st Battalion sergeant major.
Having spent the majority of his career in infantry units, Sowers said being assigned to CLR-15, his first logistics unit, gave him an appreciation for all the hard work that goes into providing logistics support, from transporting supplies to providing medical care for Marines on the battlefield.
“Coming from the infantry, working with 1st MLG, I’ve always been on the other side,” said Sowers. “On the infantry side … I ask for something and it shows up. Now that I’m on this [logistics] side, I see the work and the effort and how much it takes to get the [supplies and equipment] from A to B and the effort from the youngest guy working at the [Supply Management Unit] all the way up to the [combat logistics battalions] delivering it out to you.”
Throughout his career, Sowers said he has had a lot of positive influences.
“My first four years in the Marine Corps I had an outstanding company gunny, Gunnery Sgt. M. Z. Brown,” said Sowers. “Those are the guys, as I grew up, I tried to emulate, because they were both outstanding role models as Marines … They taught me the right way, took me under their wing and showed me the way to do it.”
Sowers hopes to impart the same sense of esprit de corps into the today’s generation of noncommissioned officers.
“For the young leaders, every Marine that joins the Marine Corps has the right to be led morally, ethically and professionally. And as a young NCO, that’s how they should treat their young Marines that come in.”
In addition to having strong leadership, Sowers credited his wife of 20 years, Yolanda, for helping him succeed in his career.
“My success rests solely on the strength of my wife,” said Sowers. “She takes care of the family, the household. I’ve got eight deployments in the Marine Corps. It makes it difficult on the family, and I’m lucky to have a strong wife and a strong family that’s able to overcome the stresses that come with what we do.”
Even though he has enough time under his belt to retire, Sowers has no desire to leave the Marine Corps “gun club” just yet.
“I’m going to stay in the Marine Corps until I don’t enjoy it anymore,” said Sowers. “I’ve had the opportunity to work in some great units. I’ve been surrounded by great individuals, and as long as I continue to enjoy what I do I’m definitely going to stay in.”