Marine Drill Instructors and Recruiters among special duty award winners

The special duty assignment, or "as recruiters, drill instructors, combat instructors, or Marine security guards.
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Eight Marines received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for their exceptional performance in their respective special duty assignments, ir B-billets, as recruiters, drill instructors, combat instructors and Marine Security Guards. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ethan Miller.

Four Marines were named the top performers across the service’s special duty ranks, which includes drill instructors, recruiters, combat instructors and Marine security guards. The four were recognized at a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps just outside Washington, D.C. 

The four Marines, along with four others chosen as runners-up for each job, were awarded Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals by the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Christopher J. Mahoney for “work that surpassed their peers.” 

Special duties, or “B billets” as they are commonly known, are a right of passage for most Marines who stay in uniform into the service’s upper enlisted ranks. Regardless of their primary job, Marines from every corner of the Corps can apply for special duty assignments as recruiters, drill instructors, combat instructors or Marine security guards. 

Three B billet positions are among the most recognizable roles in the Corps, staffing the positions that turn civilians into Marines. Recruiters work in the civilian world, looking for qualified candidates to enlist. Drill instructors train raw recruits through the Corps’ famously tough boot camp at one of two recruit depots. Combat instructors are assigned to one of the Corps final combat schools to train recruits on the basics of infantry and other combat skills before they are assigned to the fleet for expeditionary combat operations.

Marine security guards take on another high-visibility role as specially trained guards at U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world. An MSG assignment that generally sends a Marine to tours at three foreign posts where they both provide security to diplomatic staff and serve as a symbolic military presence at U.S. embassies. 

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Christopher J. Mahoney, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, left, awards Gunnery Sgt. Bryan V. Labiosa, a drill instructor with Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, as the Drill Instructor of the Year at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Virginia, Feb. 8, 2024. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David Brandes/

The eight winners and runners-up were honored at the Commandant’s Combined Awards Ceremony at the museum in Triangle, Virginia. The eight Marines were:

  • Recruiter of the Year Gunnery Sgt. Russell B. Cowan with Recruiting Station San Diego, California, and runner-up Gunnery Sgt. Tristan R. Wiggin with Recruiting Station Tampa, Florida. The two were chosen from among 3,200 Marine recruiters.

“These recruiters are the hunter-gatherers,” Mahoney said, “they are the ones who go out and sell inspiration to the best of America’s youth.”

  • Drill Instructor of the Year Gunnery Sgt. Bryan V. Labiosa from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and runner-up Staff Sgt. Jonathon R. Savage from MCRD San Diego.

“They take what the hunter-gatherers bring,” Mahoney said. “They build it into the Marine Corps ethos of honor, courage and commitment.”

  • Marine Combat Instructor of the Year Gunnery Sgt. Jose R. Acevedo Jr., from the School of Infantry-East and runner-up Gunnery Sgt. Russell M. Regehr from School of Infantry-West. The two were selected from 791 combat instructors.

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“They put truth to the maxim, ‘every Marine is a rifleman,’” Mahoney said. “They solve the victory equation: skill [multiplied by] will, times drill equals kill.”

  • Marine Security Guard of the Year Gunnery Sgt. Matthew M. Kinsman at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia and runner-up Gunnery Sgt. Trevor J. Bowen at Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, Beijing, China. The two were recognized out of 1,629 Marine security guards on duty in 137 countries around the world. 

“They are a symbol of the strength of the United States all around the world,” Mahoney said.

Bowen told the service that credit for his award belongs with Marines he works with.

“It’s also about my Marines and the Marines that we have out on the Marine Security Guard program right now. Without them and without them doing their job and being excellent, I would not be here today,” he said.

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