MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – -- Marines of all grades and various units gathered inside the II Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters building for a March 1.
Cpl. Phillip J. Costa was promoted to his present rank, thus marking a turning point in his career and symbolizing him not only as a noncommissioned officer within the United States Marine Corps, but more importantly, a leader among the few and proud.
Costa, a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner, has faithfully served his country for three years. He enlisted the day after graduation from Salesian High School in Yonkers, N.Y.
Costa was a young boy when he met Robert Dzubak, a family friend and U.S. Marine. He remembers being impressed and in awe over the Marine blues, the dress uniform worn by enlisted Marines.
“I knew that I was going to be a Marine because I wanted to be like my friend Robert. I was probably eight when I saw the dress blues,” Costa remembered.
A key facet of this upstate New Yorker’s life use to be playing right wing for the varsity hockey team. Now, he enjoys going back to the school in uniform and talking to the students about what life is like in the Marine Corps.
“Going back to my high school and telling the younger kids what the Marine Corps is all about is something I enjoy very much,” Costa Said. “Getting free dinner in Manhattan isn’t bad either,” he adds with a smile.
Now, when Costa goes back to his high school, the uniform he wears will have a distinct addition, the scarlet stripe, which signifies him as an NCO. The scarlet stripe, also know as the “blood stripe” by Marines, dates back to 1847, during the Mexican-American War. The stripe symbolizes the heavy losses of Marine NCOs during the battle of Chapultepec. For Costa, the rank symbolizes his introduction into an elite and highly respected society of enlisted Marines.
The NCO rank is given when a Marine demonstrates the ability to lead junior Marines. Once wearing that rank, the individual is entrusted by superiors with more responsibility. Costa said he looks forward to the challenge and feels he will be an effective leader to those who fall under him.
Costa works with sensitive information, carefully monitoring the movements of troops all over the world and doing his part to fight the global war on terror. Costa, too, has done his fair share of traveling the world.
“I’ve been station in Okinawa, Japan and traveled to Pattaya and Bangkok, Thailand,” Costa mentioned.
Being able to travel is one of the benefits Costa said he will miss about the Marine Corps when he gets out later next year. He is moving on to follow another dream of his to be a part of the Yonkers Police Department--more specifically, part of the Emergency Services Unit.
Whatever the future holds for Costa, he now is and always will be, a corporal in the Marine Corps. The quality of experience and leadership skills he acquired while in the Corps will last forever and he believes it will also create opportunities in his future.
“To me, being a Marine is enough, but I’m proud to wear my corporal chevrons,” he said.