DVIDS – News – 3rd Marine Division NCO receives Marine of the Year Award

DVIDS – News – 3rd Marine Division NCO receives Marine of the Year Award


CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa, Japan – Corporal Aaron Koonce, a communications maintenance repair technician with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, U.S. Marine Corps, was named the 2023 Division Marine of the Year during the Marine Corps Association Ground Awards Ceremony in Arlington, Virginia, May 9, 2024. The award recognizes a Marine who exceeds expectations in job performance and improves the morale and welfare of his unit. Corporal Koonce combined his education, experience and well-rounded Marine approach to share and build upon within his platoon.

“Koonce embodies everything we look for in a Marine,” said Warrant Officer Shane Mason, Koonce’s platoon leader. “It comes effortlessly, especially his ability to execute critical missions on his own without supervision.”

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Koonce graduated from Harding University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. He then worked as an athletic trainer in New Orleans for two years before deciding to enlist in the Marines in 2022.

Shortly after arriving at the 3rd Marine Division, Koonce served as a technician in the Communications Repair Section and was cross-trained with another section, gaining experience with satellite communications equipment. While he became tactically adept in his role, Koonce also volunteered 108 hours for the betterment of his community and participated in numerous Marine Corps ceremonies as a narrator.

“Recognition has never been my goal,” Koonce said. “I just wanted to serve my purpose here.”

Upon arriving with his unit, Kuhn put his physical fitness expertise to use by designing a thorough physical fitness training plan. As a corporal, he developed and executed the plan, leading training sessions in running, rucksack, high intensity tactical training, weight training, gymnastics, mobility, and jiu-jitsu. He also pursued continuing education opportunities in his spare time, maintaining athletic training, strength training, and basic life support certification. After a colleague underwent ACL reconstructive surgery, Kuhn led the post-op therapeutic rehabilitation, resulting in improved mobility and strength. As a result of his leadership, the platoon’s physical fitness scores improved and injury rates decreased.

“Coonce is a force multiplier. His work ethic, leadership and dedication have a tremendous impact on the performance, mental health and physical fitness of his entire platoon, directly increasing productivity and morale within the unit,” Mason said. “He has always been a mentor and leader to those around him, regardless of rank, making every Marine around him a better person.”








Data collected: May 29, 2024
Posted on: May 29, 2024 02:25
Story ID: 472403
position: Okinawa Prefecture
home town: Memphis, Tennessee, USA






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