Gunnery Sgt. Pirtle Walks the Walk
MARINE AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, California -- Gunnery Sgt. Kevin D. Pirtle earns his reputation as a motivated leader through his actions rather than his words.
Pirtle, a Somerville, Tennessee, native, is the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Not only is he the company gunnery sergeant, but he is also filling the roles of both the company first sergeant, and company executive officer during Integrated Training Exercise 2-15, as well.
The ground combat element in Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force-4 includes 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines for ITX 2-15.
“You can get a reputation without saying a word,” said Pirtle. “If you stay active and stay on top of things, you’re not going to have to say much of anything for someone to say ‘That guy knows what he’s talking about.’”
Q: Why did you join the Marine Corps over any other branch?
A: I had nothing else to do, and I didn’t plan properly. The Marine recruiter was the only one I remembered from high school because he always wore his Dress Blues.
Q: What do you have to say about your experience in the Marine Corps?
A: It is both challenging and rewarding at the same time. All the lessons you learn and the trials and tribulations all pay off in the end. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: What do you think about when things get rough?
A: I consider myself a sheep dog. When I get down and don’t feel like doing something I just think about the fact that someone is going to benefit from this.
Q: What is your role at ITX 2-15?
A: Originally, I (was just) the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, but for the last two months, prior to ITX until now, I am the acting first sergeant and executive officer as well. Accountability for personnel and operations takes up a lot of my day.
Although he’s a busy Marine and has a lot on his plate, he still finds time to mentor his Marines.
“I have a book of mentoring subjects for kneecap-to-kneecap time with junior Marines,” said Pirtle.
One of his favorite sayings is “Being wired for sound.”
He uses this phrase to mentor his Marines on the importance of planning.
“Before a concert the band goes on stage and does sound-check after sound-check for each instrument countless times to be sure that everything is operating correctly,” explains Pirtle. “They don’t get up there for the first time when the curtain opens and ask for five minutes to fix things. They prepare themselves.”
He compares the band playing at a concert to how Marines should plan ahead.
“When (an) operation comes around and it’s time to cross the line of departure, your planning has been done and you’re ready for the task,” said Pirtle.
Pirtle is also a big fan of chaos, because even with the best plan, unexpected events will still occur.
“I like to put myself in the way of friction,” said Pirtle. “It makes me perform better. I like controlled chaos because it brings out the best of people.”
He is fond of calling himself a “fire and forget” weapon.
“Someone can give me a task and they don’t have to worry about it getting done,” said Pirtle.
Pirtle grew up playing football, but in the Marine Corps he has found a new passion: rugby.
“If I would have played rugby in high school, I wouldn’t have even played football,” said Pirtle.
He is the co-founder and president of a rugby team in Hawaii, and is excited to get back to start training and practicing again with his team.
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