Sgt. Jerre’al Hayles awarded the 2020 Trial Service Office Marine of the Year

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jerre’al Hayles, a Pacific trial team paralegal with the Legal Service Support Section, studies at home on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, March 10, 2021. Hayles won the 2020 Trial Service Office Marine of the Year award for going above and beyond the expectations and duties within the unit. Hayles is a native of Smithfield, Virginia. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Karis Mattingly)
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jerre’al Hayles, a Pacific trial team paralegal with the Legal Service Support Section, studies at home on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, March 10, 2021. Hayles won the 2020 Trial Service Office Marine of the Year award for going above and beyond the expectations and duties within the unit. Hayles is a native of Smithfield, Virginia. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Karis Mattingly)

Sgt. Jerre’al Hayles awarded the 2020 Trial Service Office Marine of the Year

by Cpl. Karis Mattingly
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Once a year, across the U.S. Marine Corps, Marines with the trial service offices at each of the four Legal Service Support Sections are nominated for the Marine of the Year award for going above and beyond the expectations and duties within the unit.

However, only one can win.

After years of dedicating herself to her Marines, duties and work, Sgt. Jerre’al Hayles, a Pacific trial team paralegal, was awarded the 2020 Trial Service Office Marine of the Year on Feb. 26.

“I teared up a little bit,” said Hayles, a native of Smithfield, Virginia. “I was so shocked. I did not expect this at all.”

Hayles workday started off just like any other. She woke up, got dressed and was at the office by 7:30 a.m. The Marines had training, so they needed to gather in the courtroom. Once everyone was present, Lt. Col. Adam King, the director of the military justice branch at Headquarters Marine Corps, announced the winner of the 2020 TSO Marine of the Year award via video teleconference.

Hayles explained that at first it did not soak into her understanding of what was going on. Then all of a sudden, her name was projected onto the overhead screen. At that moment she knew what had happened. She has just won the 2020 TSO Marine of the Year award.

“I was emotional because the last three years has been difficult for me, especially this year,” said Hayles. “Two years ago I lost two Marines, so it's been a journey finding myself again. When I moved to Okinawa, I had to adjust to a whole new environment while still trying to get back on my feet. Additionally, my husband is deployed right now, and COVID-19 has affected some of my family members.”

Hayles has worked at LSSS-Pacific on Camp Foster since January 2019. She has been nominated more than once, but this was the first year she won. She explains that even though she did not take the award last year, she brushed it off and kept moving forward. She kept her eye on the prize- not towards the award but continuing to be the best she can be for the Marines around her.

“I look up to her for numerous reasons,” said Cpl. Samantha Wilson, legal chiefat the 3d Marine Logistics Group’s Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. “Sgt. Hayles' tact in stressful situations has always been something to admire. There was a time I believed I was not ready to be a NCO. Sgt. Hayles took the time to listen to my worries and anxieties, and she reassured me and guided me through the steps. She was my biggest support system.”

As the certificate of commendation for winning the award reads, Hayles served as the trial services and complex trial team noncommissioned officer in charge where her diligence, expertise and leadership enhances the proficiency, productivity and performance of the section.

“She's the go-to Marine in the office,” said Master Sgt. Winston Clarke, the travel authorization officer and TSO chief, and a native of Kingston, Jamaica. “She has been the NCOIC pretty much since she arrived in this section. She is constantly leading from the front. If she sees that the Marines don't understand something, she will take the time to help them. As a leader, she has the go-getter attitude we are looking for. She is somebody who has that drive to succeed and pass down that knowledge to others.”

Hayles has additionally executed dozens of tasks supporting over 100 courts-martial and administrative proceedings across the Pacific region.

“Being selected as the TSO Marine of the Year is a significant accomplishment, and we are very proud of Sgt. Hayles,” said Col. Thomas Merritt, the officer in charge of LSSS-Pacific. “She is a leader and a role model within the LSSS.”
The certificate of commendation continues to state that she devoted herself to developing her junior Marines by setting the example of the character and competence expected of a sergeant of Marines.

“My Marines have really pushed me to be the best sergeant I can be,” said Hayles. “They have played a huge part in my accomplishments. Like I mentioned, I was in a tough spot when I first arrived here. My shop helped me when I couldn’t carry all the weight because of my struggles. I just kept trying to put my best foot forward, and my Marines took it from there.”

In and out of work, Hayles ensures that she uses her time to serve others and better herself.

Hayles graduated University of Maryland Global Campus with 3.825 GPA and an associate degree in general studies. She actively volunteers in the military and local community with approximately 100 hours worth of service. She was also one of three nominees selected to enroll in a program leading to a degree in paralegal studies through the Marine Corps. Additionally, within just five years of service, Hayles has been selected to be promoted to staff sergeant.

“Just like everyone at the LSSS, I have relied on Sgt. Hayles a great deal, and she has never disappointed,” said Wilson, a native of Jacksonville, Florida. “I have felt myself grow as a person and as a Marine because of her. I aspire to be that type of influence to others by passing on what she taught me.”

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