CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- According to Marine Corps promotion goals, Marines of any occupational specialty can expect to be promoted to first sergeant by their eighteenth year of service. Twenty-nine-year-old 1st Sgt. Anthony N. Page managed to accomplish this feat in 11 years.
Page, company first sergeant for Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group, joined the military in 1992 after graduating from Kingstree Senior High School in Kingstree, S.C. Raised by his mother, Hattie Primas, Page and his three sisters struggled day-to-day to make ends meet. To help his mother financially, he decided to enlist in the Marines. However, that was not his only motive for joining the ranks of "the few, the proud."
Page's reasons for enlisting are common, but his unheard of promotion success is not. He said, "I wanted a challenge and to be a part of an elite group. Never did I actually think I would progress so rapidly."
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., was where he endured his first step to becoming the leader he is today.
"Boot camp was exactly what I expected and hoped for," remembered Page. "Every day was a challenge. It was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to be the best, and I pushed myself everyday."
After three months of putting his physical and mental abilities to the test, Page graduated as a private first class and moved on to his job school to learn to become a warehouseman. Upon graduation a few months later, he was promoted to the rank of lance corporal.
Page was assigned to 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd FSSG, from 1993 to 1998. During his time there, he was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
This period of time was difficult for Page, but with the help of senior enlisted leaders, he was able to overcome his "road bumps."
"When I was a corporal, I was having some serious medical problems, like migraines. I was in the process of getting medically discharged from the Marine Corps," he explained. "My first sergeant at the time, First Sergeant (Louis M.) Espinal, took me under his wing and helped rejuvenate my career. That was the spark that pushed me to be the Marine I am."
Currently, Sgt. Maj. Espinal, is the sergeant major of Marine Wing Communications Squadron-38 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., but he remembers his days while guiding Page.
"I've known (Page) since 1997 at 2nd Supply Battalion," Espinal said. "He was a fireball. He's the kind of Marine you could assign a mission and expect positive results. I always knew that he had potential to succeed in whatever challenges he pursued, but I would never had imagined that he was going to move in the ranks this quickly."
Luckily for Page, his health improved, and his outlook for the future brightened. He was promoted to sergeant after being a corporal for two years, the longest he's held any rank.
"After I got promoted to sergeant, I went out on recruiting duty at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That's when the ball really got rolling," he said.
In 1999, he was named Rookie Recruiter of the Year and earned a promotion to staff sergeant. Ten months later, he was honored with Recruiter of the Nation for 2000 and was made a gunnery sergeant.
As a gunnery sergeant, Page traveled with Headquarters Company to Camp Fox, Kuwait, for Operation Iraqi Freedom. There, he and his fellow Marines endured nearly five months of severe sandstorms and blistering heat. But every minute in the hostile environment was "a learning experience" for Page. Shortly after returning from OIF, he was promoted to first sergeant.
"My responsibilities as first sergeant are to assist the commander and also be an example to the young Marines. I want them to see that they can go as far as they want. They should never give up their dreams," Page explained.
He's quick to remember those who have helped him achieve his dreams, expressing his deepest gratitude to his family and church.
"Without God, none of this would be possible. My mom, my sisters and my church family at Evangelistic Temple Way of the Cross with pastor Bishop Roosevelt Fulton have given me so much support. They have been so important in my life. I'm blessed," he said.
He's currently in the process of transferring to 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, where he will have the opportunity to share his leadership skills with infantrymen. It's a challenge Page said he's ready to take on.