MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Glenda M. Burley, maintenance chief for communications and electronics, II Marine Expeditionary Force, has spent most of her adult life in the Corps and is a prime example of how women play a prominent role in the military. After 30 years of loyal service, she will retire as a master gunnery sergeant.
Her retirement ceremony kicks off Dec. 1, but Marines in her unit reflected on the type of mentor she has been to them up to this point. Some of the traits they aspire to inherit come from her years of duty as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Officer Candidate School instructor at Quantico, Va., and maintenance chief for II MEF. She also appeared as a key note speaker for the Women’s Military Memorial dedication during 1997 in Washington, D.C.
“She has a great amount of knowledge as a maintenance chief, from which I’ve copied her organizational skills. She structures everything which has taught me to organize outside of work as well,” said Cpl. Nicole L. Wink, communications administration noncommissioned officer, II MHG, who has worked under Burley since 2005, and credits her Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal to the work ethic Burley has instilled in her.
Wink also characterized her as a good leader to their section because she is sympathetic to her Marines’ personal lives.
“She is always the first to rally everyone in our section to support others for events like retirements, deaths or a baby on the way. She is the mother of our section and will even help fellow Marines work through personal problems when they need help,” said Wink.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Robert F. Boyd, communications and electronics chief, II MEF, has known Burley for a decade and characterized her as a modest and spiritual person and noted her moral values as something all Marines should emulate.
“She is a beacon of leadership for our Marines and Navy personnel. Her talent and dedication to us will definitely be missed after her retirement,” said Boyd.
Burley’s career was ahead of the ever-evolving Corps because by the time female Marines were eligible to perform duties as Marine Security Guard, she had already received orders to drill instructor school. Unfortunately, Burley never got the opportunity to deploy with a unit, but the highlights of her career came through 10 years of training recruits to become Marines and candidates into commissioned officers.
“Some Marines I’ve spoken to said although (drill instructors) were tough on them, they now understand we always had their best interest at heart. Officer candidates had it tough during training, but we looked for and developed leadership traits in candidates. Decisions they make affect all the way down the chain (of command),” Burley said.
Burley admitted that her source of inspiration to be a good Marine throughout the years simply came from other Marines.
“I’ve always shown others that I never wanted my male counterparts to carry my load, in turn, earning others’ respect. Also, integrity is another trait that I’ve always tried to live by and stress to others,” Burley said.
Burley has been a part of the II MEF family since 1999. After the end of her service contract in April 2007, she plans to continue earning her bachelor’s degree and volunteer to assist victims of domestic violence. Her achievement to the highest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps is proof of how essential women have become to the military today.