MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N. C. -- Many Marines aspire to be the best, but for Sgt. Kelly E. Rochester her efforts have been solidified as she was awarded the honor of being the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism) Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year.
“I was in disbelief when notified that I would be awarded,” the 25-year-old Rochester said with a smile. “I always strive to be the best, and was overwhelmed just to be nominated and even more when I won.”
Rochester, a Pine Hill, N.J., native, joined the 4th MEB (AT) two years ago and works as a Ammunition Technician, a job that requires her to monitor allocations of ammo for the entire brigade and provide assistant here, throughout the east coast and abroad for any unit’s ammunition scenarios.
She also played a big role in setting up the Training Ammunition Management Information System-Redesign (TAMIS-R) and is often a “go-to” source for training and help with the system.
“I love my job and the chance to lead Marines, but I still have a lot to learn,” the 1998 Overbrook High School graduate said humbly.
Rochester won the NCO of the Quarter in March 2005 for 4th MEB (AT) Headquarters Company and the Brigade level NCO of Quarter during the same month.
She believes that she was able to achieve these accomplishments by being determined to do better and having great examples of leadership in her company first sergeant, Lisa K. Nilsson, 39, and commanding officer, Major Anita W. Carroll, 39, who was also NCO of the Year in 1994 for 2nd Force Service Support Group.
“I am honored to have a Marine like Rochester in my command. For her to emulate me and win the same award as I did is like passing a torch,” Carroll, the Ithaca, N.Y., native said proudly. “I know she will continue to set the example for other Marines, and I look forward to see how she will continue to improve herself and those who work with her.”
“She deserves this award for all the hard work she has done,” said Nilsson, a Pen Argly, Penn., native. “She has always been an NCO who led from the front and has never wavered.”
When Carroll first met the soft-spoken Rochester two years ago she was a new mother, but she
did not use that as in excuse to keep her from her responsibilities of being a Marine.
“She told me before we ran our PFT that she wanted to see if she could do better after having a child and she bested her run time,” said Carroll, a 1984 Northeast Bradford High School graduate in Rome, Penn., and 1989 Cornell University graduate. “She did not have to run, but that shows what type of person she is. Watching Marines develop into something like that gives me pride.”
“I know that she will continue to do her best and pass on all her knowledge to other Marines,” Nilsson, a 1984 Pen Argly High School graduate and 2003 Strayer University graduate added. “She is great leader who is determined, motivated and challenge driven, a great recipe for an NCO and perfect for NCO of the year.”
Rochester feels that her drive comes from her supportive husband, Joshua N. Rochester, wanting to set a good example for her children and reflects on winning this award as being the next step to being a better Marine.
“Most people would think that the pressure is off when you win something like this, but it’s the exact opposite,” Rochester, the University of Phoenix junior commented. “This is just the first step in a new direction in my career, and I will continue to learn, work hard and hopefully one day one of my Marines can take home this honor.”