Weight of flag on his shoulders

19 Mar 2001 | Cpl. Valerie A. Martinez

His job is to train and mold Marines who bear the honor of marching with the 2d Marine Division's colors. He teaches them to stand tall and remain steadfast as they strut in parades and ceremonies around the states, carrying the nation's red, white and blue as it billows in the wind.

His name is Sgt. Kelly O'Clair, and he is the new color sergeant for 2d Mar. Div.'s color guard here.

"He wanted to be the division color sergeant for a long time. This Marine has always tried his best and gave 100 percent in his duties," Sgt. Maj. Bruce Poland, sergeant major of 2d Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2d Mar. Div.
O'Clair began his Marine Corps career as an assault amphibian vehicle mechanic with AA Bn., and within two months, was selected by his first sergeant to be in the battalion's color guard.

He said it was his motivation and determination to be a squared-away Marine that led to an appointment on AA Bn.'s color-guard. He added the two years he put in on their color guard led to his current selection as the division's color sergeant.

"My responsibilities as the division color sergeant are to train the new members of the color guard when they come from other units in the division," said O' Clair of Alpena, Mich. "I also work with the band officer and drum major to coordinate color guards performances. The division color sergeant is the stepping stone between the color guard and the division sergeant major and commanding general."

O'Clair, added, he brings to the division distinctive traits he hopes will strengthen the unit.

"One of the unique qualities I bring is my attention to detail. I believe I train my Marines so that every time we go out, they perform as if the president or commandant could be watching them," O'Clair said.

His role as the new color sergeant is key to providing the division a way to showcase its best, he remarked.

"The importance of having a Marine Corps color guard is it displays the division colors and the national colors for all to see - it becomes a symbol people can relate to, both military and civilian alike," O'Clair said. "It's another way for the division to display 'the best of the best.?"

Master Gunnery Sgt. Warren C. Barnes, maintenance chief with 2d AA Bn., said there was no doubt in his mind O'Clair was a prime candidate for the position.
"It takes leadership, fortitude and the truth to be the division color sergeant. In this new age of Marines everyone wants to be a leader, however, not many are willing to be taught and developed into a great leader. Sergeant O'Clair has the natural ability to lead, and as he marches on he quickly picks up traits of successful leaders and acquires those traits to his personality.

"We only select the best to represent the division, and 2d AA Bn. sent its best. We expected him to be the division color sergeant," said Barnes of Clinton, Md.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Sergeant O'Clair will take charge and ensure the division color-guard is locked on. He is a mentor and teacher of young Marines.

He is a motivator and understands his role - that it is his job as a sergeant of Marines to make sure his Marines are ready, taken care of, and makes it fun for them everyday," said Poland of Arlington Heights, Ill.